Why are firetrucks red?
Because they have eight wheels and four people, and 4 plus 8 is 12, and 12 is a foot and a foot is a ruler, and Queen Elizabeth was a ruler, and Queen Elizabeth was also a ship, and the ship sails the sea and in the sea is fish and fish have fins, and the Finns fought the Russians and the Russians were red and that’s why firetrucks are red.
That brilliant bit of logic, which is floating anonymously around the Internet, was brought to the Empress’s attention by the globe-trotting diplomatic Loser Robin Diallo, somewhere between Senegal and Afghanistan. It’s a bit like the Invitational’s occasional name chain contest, in which each name in a string of 25 connects to the next one in some novel way, until it comes back to the original name. But believe it or not, the firetruck “explanation” here makes better reading than a name chain. This week: Answer a simple question with a ridiculously argued answer citing various connections and parallels, as in the example above. Don’t make it much longer than that one, but it certainly could be more clever.
The Style Invitational
The Style Invitational is The Post’s weekly humor/wordplay contest, serving up since 1993 an irreverent mix of highbrow and lowbrow -- haughty and potty -- in genres ranging from neologisms to cartoon captions to elaborate song parodies. A new contest appears at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational every Friday.
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives, also from the peripatetic Ms. Diallo, a necktie she found in the Philippines, depicting cute cartoon pigs that are pursuing romantic activities not suitable for printing in a newspaper section that’s in close proximity to KidsPost. (Online, not so near KidsPost, you can peek at it here.) If you are an actual kid and win second place, or if you have a shred of propriety, we will substitute a plain ol’ mug or something. (And we can’t even tell you about the other donation from Robin, except that it’s a polished wooden ashtray topped with a six-inch polished wooden, anatomically correct, uh, fertility totem? We won’t be giving that one out.)
Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders receive a smelly, tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to
or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Sept. 23; results published Oct. 13 (online Oct. 10). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 1038” in your e-mail subject line or it might be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/inviterules. The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions was suggested independently by Tom Witte, Dave Prevar and Ward Kay; the alternative headline in the “Next week’s results” line is by Kevin Dopart. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at
Report from Week 1034
in which we asked for original takes on the well-worn joke form “I like my X the way I like my Y”: The Empress’s predecessor, the Czar, suggested this contest and bet her a lunch that it would draw plenty of great (and even printable) entries. He wins. If you’re at a D.C. lunch spot and see two wild-haired people wearing cute little ermine stoles and yelling at each other, drop by and say hello.
Note to the Easily Offended: Jokes starting off “I like my women” or “I like my men” tend to be less than cerebrally worshipful. We are confident that the views expressed herein are not reflective of the high esteem in which the various authors actually hold their women, men, underwear, etc.