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Originally published October 14, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 14, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Pinkies up: tea with the first lady

Mary Mitchell wore white kid gloves — the same ones she wore at her wedding — to tea at the White House on Tuesday afternoon...

Seattle Times columnist

Mary Mitchell wore white kid gloves — the same ones she wore at her wedding — to tea at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. The occasion was to honor Letitia Baldridge, an etiquette expert and author who served as social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy. Mary, a Seattle-based Miss Manners-type who writes the Nice Matters column in The Seattle Times, was invited by the hostess, Laura Bush, because she is a close friend of Letitia, who gave Mitchell away via speakerphone when she married her college sweetheart in a conference room at a Seattle law office.

The tea was "quite dazzling," Mary reports, with more roses and pearls than one might ever see under one roof, and pistachio cookies "to die for." The souvenir she most coveted from her tour of the president's private office was a photograph of George H.W. Bush in his Yale baseball uniform, shaking Babe Ruth's hand. Good manners dictate that she not try to steal it for her baseball fanatic husband; she did not.

The invitation to tea had arrived bearing gold engraving and an American flag stamp (of course): "Mrs. Laura Bush requests the pleasure of your company at tea ... " and directed guests to the east entrance. A small accompanying card asked invitees to respond with their Social Security number and date of birth. Which, for an event honoring an etiquette expert, seems like rather poor manners: Isn't it impolite to ask a lady her age? ...

LAMPSHADES ARE THE NEW BLACK: Barneys New York, known for its irreverent window displays, has just installed thrift-store lampshades (moonlighting as hats and various accoutrements) in its Seattle store windows. "They're the lampshades you would walk by at a garage sale," says display manager Jodi Davis. "They're hideous. We'll take something like that and pair it with high fashion, and it looks great." But like so much high fashion, it's hard to pull off unless you're 6 feet tall, weigh 100 pounds and are made of plastic. ...

LADIES WHO LUNCH: Seattle-based Gourmondo Catering is used to, um, catering to celebrities, even when it comes to a simple boxed lunch. We hear that when the team from Martha Stewart Living comes to town, they request fresh tulips with their lunch orders — and they choose the color. "She's the only one who requests tulips for her boxed lunches," said Gourmondo co-owner Alissa Leinonen Gallagher. Even Oprah's people don't do that. But as long as we're being persnickety, we can't confirm it's Martha herself who is eating those gourmet panini sandwiches and petit chocolate cake — but either way, it appears the domestic doyenne is leading by example. ...

SPEAKING OF SANDWICHES, Jared Fogle — also known as "Jared from Subway" — made the rounds at Seattle-area schools while in town for the American Heart Association's Seattle Heart Walk. Jared, who famously lost 245 pounds by eating two Subway sandwiches a day, still eats there several times a week. Between talking to kids about how not to get fat, the still-slim Subway spokesman said, "I'm eating everything" in Seattle. Well, not everything. Not Quiznos. "Oh, heck no! You're not going to see me eating there, that's for sure." But Jared, have you ever tried it? Quiznos is toasty delicious. "No, don't say that. Boo." ...

CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS ROUNDUP: Jerry Seinfeld, looking youthful in jeans and a blazer, at Pacific Place ... Ashlee Simpson and boyfriend Pete Wentz at a lobster dinner prepared by Barolo owner Leo Varchetta at a downtown Seattle condo ... Tom Skerritt at Wild Ginger co-owner Rick Yoder's 50th birthday bash at Triple Door ... Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor dining at the Met ... "Hotel fairies" in skimpy fairy costumes sprinkling good-luck fairy dust on guests at the Seattle Sheraton's 25th anniversary party, including musical guests Kool and The Gang ... Jared from Subway wearing dark sunglasses and a hat while eating at Quiznos. Just kidding.

Girl About Town appears every Sunday in Northwest Life. Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or psitt@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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