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Lunch, not launch

IF recent rumors and speculation in the press can be believed, President Reagan and First Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev may soon sit down and palaver. What will they say? Recent communications between the United States and the Soviet Union provide a clue. Last month President Reagan sent this country's best-known letter carrier, George Bush, to Moscow with a personal message for the new Communist leader, suggesting a meeting. Eventually the hot line at the White House began ringing and President Reagan picked it up: ``Is that you, Darth?''

Before one could say ``ideological gridlock,'' the two men were chattering away, playfully calling each other ``Gulag'' and ``Union Buster.'' Mr. Gorbachev offered that his favorite decadent western song was Willie Nelson's ``Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.'' Mr. Reagan replied that ``Some of my best friends are reds: Red Skelton, Red Auerbach. . . .''

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Then the two got down to cases. (Please note only the White House side of the phone call was released.)

President Reagan: ``About our summit meeting, how does August 1st strike you . . . No, no, Mikhail I didn't say I was going to `first strike you'; I meant would August 1st be convenient for you? Look, if that's a bad time, we could meet the day after. . . . I didn't mean to imply anything by the term `the day after,' Mikhail.

``Hey, we really should be doing this face to face. Let's have lunch real soon . . . lunch, for Pete's sake, I said `lunch' not `launch.' Get a grip, comrade, will you. Mikhail, if I were going to push the button you'd be the first to know, hahaha . . . O.K., I promise: no more thermonuclear jokes.

``It was sweet of you to call collect, Mikhail, but Nancy says I better ring off before the deficit gets any higher. What's that? You want to hear my life's story? Very funny, Mikhail. I've got to run; don't be a stranger. And go easy on the lying and cheating, will you? Just kidding. Ciao.

``That's `c' for capitalism, i-a-o; ciao, not pow. I wasn't trying to scare you, honest. Let me put it this way: Dasvidanya, and good luck with the harvest.''

David Holahan is a free-lance writer.

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