DEAR BEVERLY,

I haven't thanked you for your farseeing gift, cruel though it was. How did you know that, come the first week of January, Mr. Ambassador and "wife of" would look like two bloodshot and bloated ghosts of Christmas past? Popsie Tribble, whose flesh has filled out as well, claims that the eye-level scale you sent comes in the category of gift-atrocity. But old friends like you and George are allowed to take liberties. I'll bring the scale in from the garage just as soon as I begin my steamed-fish- and-spring-water diet, which will be tomorrow, for sure.

Actually, I've noticed that a lot of people in Powertown are suffering some sort of remorse now that the holidays are over. Popsie says she's never going to give another New Year's Eve party. In the first place, the people she really wanted didn't show up, like Senator Pod, who is known for his misanthropic proclivities. He chose to spend the night alone in a cabin in Virginia with his Rhodesian Ridgeback. "Fleas are better than people on New Year's Eve," he told Popsie. (I don't know if I told you, Beverly, but the weather was so warm that the fleas were still hopping during the holiday season on Power Town's dogs.) But he sent along "wife of" Pod and his older brother to represent him. Brother Pod doesn't get out of Kazoo City all that often, so he really adored Popsie's party. He spent most of the time helping the waiters pop the Moet et Chandon. Popsie rang me the next day and said, "When I walked on my drawing room carpet" -- 19th-century Chinese, Beverly -- "I could feel the champagne squishing between my toes. How am I going to get body and house in shape for the Inauguration?" Popsie was close to tears.

To be fair, Beverly, Popsie put on a very good show on New Year's. It's the first time I've had more caviar than I could eat. Dexter Tribble, the Roving Ambassador, went to Moscow on a secret mission, and brought back six barrels of the fish eggs. I guess the customs people thought it was sauerkraut or something.

Now we're all a little sick of caviar. As old Baron Spitte, the Dusty Diplomat said, "I feel like a 40-year old pregnant sturgeon. Cut me open and you'll find me filled with the finest Beluga."

Lionel Portant, the World Famous Columnist and Media Star, is also rather gloomy. His New Year's predictions of who's in and who's out in the new administration were 100 percent inaccurate.

"Only the Used-To-Be-Close-To's leak to me these days," he said mournfully, which I thought was a rather feeble excuse. He also made the mistake of answering his own phone during the holidays and committed himself to free speeches in Orlando, Tampa and Atlanta.

"My secretary knows I never give free speeches but she went on vacation. How do you fend off people who claim our children sit together in the sixth grade, or say they knew me when I was a nobody and, since they still are nobodies, I haven't the right to let them down?"

Remember Sonny Goldstone, the Gilded Bachelor and Social Asset? Apparently some of his mergers have turned sour. "I'm going to move to Palm Springs," he told me, "and run the business from a coffee shop near my condo. There are too many people on my payroll. If I fire them, maybe I'll be able to recoup enough to buy a helicopter to take me to the dog races."

Despite Portant's prediction that Melvin Thistle Jr. would be leaving State, Thistle is staying on. Remember how Popsie tried, with her little Georgetown dinner parties, to maneuver her Dexter into Thistle's job?

Well, Dexter is now in kind of a limbo because Roving Ambassador jobs ar being eliminated. The Bureau of the Budget believes this will help lower the deficit.

Beverly, it's getting close to the Inauguration and there are all sorts of parties that everyone is going to except Mr. Ambassador and "wife of" because we haven't been invited. "Wife of" Thistle says we should be glad because these parties are always very crowded and noisy and filled with Americans not from Washington. Nevertheless, she bought three dresses at a sale at Garfinckel's, which she hopes will suffice for all the events. Popsie's so depressed I'm afraid to ask her if she's been invited to the parties the Thistles have decided to attend.

It's colder now in Powertown, and the trees have a little frost on them. The vet says the day some ice forms on the ground I should suspend Sweet Pea in some kind of dip to get rid of the fleas. "More important," he added, "have your Residence fumigated precisely the moment your dog is being dipped, or the leas will return."

The logistics, Beverly, are far too complicated for "wife of," and Mr. Ambassador says fumigation costs too much money anyhow. So I guess we'll forget about the whole business and scratch away during the Inauguration.

Your best friend,

Sondra