Spring brings out strange longings in all of us.
You and George are suing the municipality to get sidewalk space for an outdoor bagel cafe. Melvin Thistle Jr. stayed home from the State Department during the Libyan crisis to plant 100 gapanthus and gladiola bulbs in his Cleveland Park back yard. And now that the large-flowered purple azalea is beginning to dominate this landscape, Popsie Tribble has become obsessed. She's not giving any dinner parties and deliberately passed up the Ferragamo shoe sale at Garfinkels ("I'm not the Imelda Marcos of Washington, whatever people say").
"I want to give you a tour of my house and gardens in Georgetown," she offered.
"I've seen them before."
"Well," she said, "don't you agree that it's time for Architectural Digest to do a feature on the Tribble residence? House and Garden did the Queen of Spain, Vogue did Paloma Picasso's apartment, and I think Connoisseur or Town and Country showed Sen. Pod with his Rhodesian Ridgeback in front of a federal fireplace."
"But you don't live in a palace, your father wasn't a painter, and Dexter hasn't any dogs."
"We've just bought a pair of Lhasa apsos, and we're getting a mongrel from the pound, for free."
"Why the mutt?" I wondered.
"To show that we're real animal lovers. I want the world to know that the Tribbles hate to see dogs put down just because they have no pedigree."
"Well," I said, "you certainly have plenty of Colefax and Fowler chintz, needlepoint throws and canopied beds, which these magazines seem to go in for, apart from the reverential prose."
"Precisely," Popsie said. "You can count on them to write nicely about people. Not to mention the fact that the value of our property will go up once they do a feature on the Tribbles."
I had not thought of that angle, Beverly, but Popsie's always way ahead of me.
"What else do you have that House and Garden or Architectural Digest might be interested in?" I asked.
"Our collection of American 19th Century naif paintings really belongs in the Smithsonian," Popsie went on. "But truthfully, I'm not interested in the publicity. I just want to instruct the readers in good taste. We also have an English cottage garden, which I planned on a grid. It would benefit people like Thistle Jr. to see it, so he'd stop planting gladiola bulbs in his Cleveland Park back yard."
I don't know why it is, Beverly, but Popsie has gardens, and the rest of us have back yards. Another thing, Mr. Ambassador says there's something dubious about the Tribble's American naifs. He was told that privately by Washington's foremost aesthete, Barton Pyles Tuft. "If the Smithsonian takes the Tribbles' naifs," B. P. T. said, "we'll have a bigger scandal on our hands than that overvalued gemstone business, which hit the headlines a while back."
But I didn't repeat this to Popsie.
"How do you get your house into these magazines?" I asked.
"First you look at the masthead, and see who's in charge of your city. Then you call that person up and tell them how much you admire their articles. A little soft soap can't hurt."
"But I think you know the people already," I said. "And they've seen your house."
"Simply a question of over-familiarity," Popsie replied. "They need influencing through a third person. Barton Pyles Tuft. They always defer to his superior knowledge. He's an enormous admirer of our naifs. B. P. T. told me that he's shocked our paintings haven't been on the cover of one of those magazines."
Well, Beverly, I wouldn't bet on Popsie getting her house and garden in House and Garden or Architectural Digest, but I wouldn't be surprised if she did. Dexter does serve his best wines when B. P. T. comes over.
Actually, Popsie isn't the only one who's dying to get into Architectural Digest. Baron Spitte thinks his Tapestry Room, where he gives the musicales, has been deliberately ignored by the decorative press. But he's too dignified to call up the ladies on the masthead. He's going through Joe Promisall, the world's most expensive lobbyist. After all, one of Joe's clients is a famous blue-chip conglomerate that pays for half the advertising in those magazines.
But I know the real reason Popsie has this spring fever. Sonny Goldstone's New York maisonette (brushed aluminum walls, Hopi mudhead kachina masks, passementerie tiebacks, and a Franklin Chef six-burner gas stove, with separate grill) got into the back pages of one of the decorative magazines.
"It really makes me furious," Popsie said. "He doesn't even cook."
Your best friend, Soncra