The biggest danger when writing about typos? Making one yourself.

A misspelled sign on Randolph Rd. in Montgomery County.
A misspelled sign on Randolph Rd. in Montgomery County. (Courtesy of George Hamlin)

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 2, 2011; 6:52 PM

Several readers noted that my column last week about embarrassing misspellings managed to misspell the word "misspelled" in the caption.

And several readers noted that - until it was fixed - my follow-up column about misspellings earlier this week ran under this headline online: "Why are so many signs are misspelled? To keep us amused, no doubt." (Count the "ares.")

I believe these helpful readers may have been suggesting that when one is a pot, it is best not to call the kettle black.

Hey, I never said I was prefect.

I am sure you will agree that simple typos are not that interesting. What we like are ones that create a little twist. For example, Rick Newman is in the market for a new SUV. He noticed that one Northern Virginia dealership was advertising a 2011 NISSAN ROUGE. "I e-mailed him back, telling him that I assumed this particular vehicle must be red," Rick wrote.

Leesburg's Gary Brunetti was driving along Lake Anna one day when he spotted a sign put up by a local establishment that rented boats and fishing gear. It was advertising an event for the coming weekend.

"They were sponsoring a 'stripper' tournament," Gary wrote. "I had to laugh, and figured that those boys who showed up at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning were going to have a good time, whether they went fishing for striped bass . . . or not!"

Bill Bohuslaw of Fairfax can still recite from memory a typo he read more than 50 years ago. "It was in the old Long Island Press," Bill wrote. The article was about a hockey game and how a particular player had "taken a hard check at center ice and had to be helped to the bench. Even so he was still able to come out and take his next regular shift."

Well, that's what it should have said. Wrote Bill: "Now take a guess which letter was omitted from the word 'shift.' I bet you guessed right!"

Grocery stores seem to be particularly fertile places for typos and other mistakes. Last summer Jim Rogers of Huntingtown saw identical signs in two Calvert County Safeways announcing "Locally grown Imported Sweet Onions." The locally grown, imported onions were the product of Mexico.

Bethesda's Stephen Rockower wondered exactly what type of bread was being sold at his Whole Foods:

"Baquette"? I believe it's a type of Basque croquette.

Earlier this week, I mentioned how the self-checkout machines at CVS appear to take 20-cent coins, of which there is no such thing. Not so fast, wrote Mike Hirsch and Bobby Baum, who pointed out that there were once 20-cent pieces. Wrote Bobby: "They were minted from 1875-1878, the last two years for collectors only, and people complained about them resembling quarters (remind you of the Susan B. Anthony dollars?). They're actually quite valuable; even the most common ones are worth over $100 in bad condition. Canada also had a 20-cent coin back in 1858 only. Some specimens were later struck dated 1871, apparently just as an example of the denomination. Weird."

I wouldn't put anything past a foreigner.

Speaking of which, Rich Clark had another explanation: "As I was in the Giant paying for my salad, I noticed that the self-service checkout also has a 20-cent coin. I'm willing to bet that nearly all of these machines are similar. It occurs to me that these machines are probably in greater use in Europe, where the Euro coins do come in a denomination of 20. I see an international communist coinage conspiracy lurking in the shadows of U.S. commerce - somebody alert Glenn Beck!"


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