Would you buy a handbag by Louey Futon?

John Kelly
Columnist March 18, 2012

We’ve all heard of people with a Type A personality. Are there people with Type O personalities? Or typo personalities?

That’s right, it’s time for another roundup of unfortunate errors and poor word choices, the sort that creep into headlines, advertisements, just about anywhere, including into the hotel Pete Kester stayed at in Alexandria, Egypt. An inspirational sign in the lobby attributed the quote “As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big” to Donald Tramp.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

Wrote Pete, of Springfield: “I believe the quote should have been attributed to Donald Trump.”

Kevin Ford of South Riding is Billy Graham’s nephew. He recalls a classic typo regarding Graham’s sidekick, gospel singer George Beverly Shea: “An advertisement for a Graham crusade back in the 1970s read ‘Come to the crusade! Billy Graham will be preaching and George Beverly Shea will be sinning!’”

In college, Larry Forgy worked in the composing room of a Texas newspaper. One of the printers told a story from the old hot-metal days when they were building an ad that featured a washing machine that “shuts off automatically.” At least, that’s what it would have said, had the typesetter’s finger not slipped one key to the right of the u in “shuts.”

Wrote Larry, of Rockville: “First thing in the morning, the advertiser was in the office demanding apologies, retractions, etc. Then around noon, he came back in wondering whether the ad could be run again, as he had never had so many people in his store.”

Washington’s Renee Schwager said she’ll always remember the gas station/coffee shop sign her family would pass on trips through the Poconos: “EAT AND GET GAS.”

“We never checked for accuracy,” wrote Renee.

Kathy Miller said that shortly after moving to Annapolis in 1976, she spied an ad in the “For Sale” section of the local paper. It read: “Purse for sale: Never used, designer handbag by Louey Futon.”

“It still makes me smile when I think about it,” Kathy wrote.

She might get a kick out of an ad Lynn Umscheid of Charles Town, W.Va., spotted in her local rag: “For Sale — Whole steamed bull.”

“It might take a second,” wrote Lynn.

What is it about West Virginia? Sandra Littleton, also of Charles Town, saw the headline on a wedding announcement there announcing “Marriage Consummated” at such-and-such a restaurant.

Wrote Sandra: “I bet it was a really wild party.”

Gaithersburg’s Thecla Fabian is a science writer. In the 1980s, she was working for a newsletter that covered fusion energy research. She occasionally wrote about something called a “tokamak,” which is a magnetic fusion device. Her primitive spell-checker would try to automatically change “tokamak” to “scrotum.”

“Suffice it to say I proofed very carefully,” Thecla wrote. “I knew if one slipped through, our newsletter would be posted on bulletin boards at labs worldwide, probably with some very interesting comments attached.”

In related news, Fairfax’s Sue Marcus has a friend in Denver named Sherm Marsh. “His name always spell checks as ‘sperm,’ ” she wrote.

Pam Felix left out an important word in the newsletter she writes for California Tortilla, the restaurant chain she founded. In a fundraising T-shirt promotion she wrote that the charity Share Our Strength was dedicated to “ending childhood,” as opposed to its real aim: ending childhood hunger.

“You know what the funniest part about this was?” Pam wrote. “How many people were on board with ending childhood — you’d be amazed at how many e-mails I got supporting that position.”

Tim Logue got a chuckle from the error in a recent review of the film “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” The reviewer wrote that the young protagonist’s quest takes him “through New York’s five burrows to the homes of hundreds of people with the last name Black.”

Wondered Tim: “Mr. Black-footed Ferret? Mr. Black-footed Prairie Dog?”

Phil Bonomo of Silver Spring worked for years as a systems engineer. Once when proofreading a proposal to develop a large software system, he came across the line: “The Software Development Center provides a complete and robust set of fools to expedite development of System X.”

Wrote Phil: “As I alerted everyone back then: Isn’t this carrying truth-in-advertising a bit far?”

You can keep your robust set of tools. A robust set of fools makes things much more interesting.

To read John Kelly’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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