Like day-old champagne, the Republican bus trip to Annapolis for theopening of the General Assembly Wednesday had virtually no fizz.
After they had ousted incumbent Democrats in November to capture two new seats in the House of Delegates and one new state Senate seat, itseemed the GOP effervescence would never end.
The renting of a bus by District 14B delegates Robert L. Flanaganand Robert H. Kittleman for local Republicans who wanted to attend the opening session appeared on the surface to be an extension of a prolonged party.
Certainly, people would be patting each other on the back, singing rousing choruses of "Happy Days are Here Again," and talking about "how sweet it is" to be the majority party in the county's Annapolis delegation.
Certainly not. Party members might have been boisterous on election night, but that was more than two months ago. Since then, members had recovered their perspective and were approaching this day with adult-like solemnity.
Perhaps the revelers stayed home. Or perhaps only the staid could make the trip. The day had begun, after all, with roads so ice-covered that school was canceled. Indeed, three children, one infant, and two teen-agers rode the bus with the 23 adult Republicans. Forty-three grown-ups had been expected.
Except for a Washington Post reporter who stood in the aislethe whole trip as he took notes and interviewed everyone on the bus,there was nothing to indicate this 43-minute trip was different fromany other. Some people sat silently, others leaned over their seats and talked in groups of two or three. Annapolis seemed far away.
No cheer went up when a smiling Marty Madden, R-13B, was sighted in the hallway outside his new office. His 13B running mate, John Morgan, was inside, working at his desk.
"Hardest-working man in Annapolis," a grown-up from the bus said. Morgan smiled broadly.
"Made Regardies already," Morgan said. "They think I said something bad about (R. Robert) Linowes (the head of a commission that is recommending taxreform for the state). Can you believe that?" The grown-up laughed.
For another grown-up, seeing Morgan in his office was the highlight of the trip. "Thrilling," she said. "When I think of how far he hascome."
Madden pointed to flowers on a desk in the suite of offices he shares with Morgan and Democrat Virginia Thomas of District 13A,and called Bruce Bereano, the highest paid and most powerful lobbyist in Annapolis, a chauvinist. "Sent them only to the women," Madden said.
Stories about how Bereano wines and dines delegates and senators and gives them tickets to sporting and theatrical events impossible for common folk to get are legend in Annapolis.
Madden was adding to the lore. Even though Madden would not be sworn in for another hour, Bereano had already come a-courting, Madden said. "Offered me tickets to the Philly game (against the Washington Redskins in the first round of the National Football League playoffs). Turned him down."
After some bagels and cream cheese in Flanagan's office across the hall, Carol Arscott, chair of the local Republican Central Committee, led bus riders over to the capital to find a good spot to stand and watch the opening ceremonies of both the House and the Senate on giant-screen TV sets. The sets were placed in the jam-packed corridor outside the chambers.
The closed-circuit feed from the Senate didn't work, so local GOP members didn't have a chance to applaud when thename of newly elected District 14 Sen. Christopher J. McCabe was called. They never heard it.
Even if they had heard it, they wouldn'thave been able to see McCabe, whose seat is on the Senate president's right all the way in the back.
The House of Delegates feed was working, but the picture was hardly better than the blank screen on the Senate set. The wide-angle view was from so far back it would have been easier to pick out a single munchkin on a 9-inch portable than identify anyone in the House chamber, including the speaker.
By 12:30 p.m., most of the grown-ups had grown tired of not seeing or hearing anything and left for McCabe's office, where sweet rolls, cookies and petits fours awaited.
It was a nice spread, except that on thesame floor, they could see Senate committee offices proffering ham, roast beef, chicken salad and more.
Ah well, perhaps Bereano had helped with the catering.
There was nothing to do now but chat a little and wait until 2:30 for the bus to leave. It actually left at 2:38 and took 50 minutes to return to Columbia.
Somehow, the trip seemed longer.