"Well, good, good, good, " said Louise Holley of Silver Spring, just after I'd broken the news to her on Monday morning. "I'm at a loss for words. I haven't ever had a vacation like that. I'm on Cloud Nine already."
Louise will have eight days and seven nights to come back to earth. That's how long she's about to spend at the Club Med resort on the Bahamian Island of Eleuthera. She'll play tennis, drink free wine, eat three sumptuous meals a day and bask in the sun -- all for submitting the winning entry in our contest to pick a work to replace "single."
The contest, you'll remember, ran from November through January. It was born of a concern among several Washingtonians that the word "single" had taken on a negative connotation. What was better? I joined forces with Entrees Inc., a local social club for unmarrieds, to see if my readers could provide an answer.
We received, 1,089 entries, accompanied by $2,522 in entry fees. The money went to Children's Hospital. Both the kids it will help and the guy tapping on these keys are very grateful for such a solid response.
When the judges studied the entries last weekend, we came up with more than 40 that we felt were deserving. But eventually we took a vote, and Louise Holley's entry was the unanimous first choice.
To replace "single," she suggested "a cappella."
Why? "Because it says: Although unaccompanied, I sing!" Louise wrote on her ballot.
Louise is a retired teacher of handicapped children. And, yes, she's a cappella. Her age? "You may ask, but I never give an answer," she replied. That's a confident, a cappella answer if ever I've heard one.
Thirteen other contestants won prizes, too. Here's a rundown:
Second prize: "Celebrit," suggested by Joyce Carrier of Bethesda. She wins a day on a yacht for six people, courtesy of Jerry Herson of Herson's Honda in Rockville.
Third prize: "Monocrat," suggested by Pedro Fenjves of Charlottesville. He wins a $100 gift certificate toward any tour or cruise from Dimensions Travel of Bethesda.
Fourth prize: "Solobrater," the brainchild of Susan Cohen of Northwest. She, too, wins a $100 certificate from Dimensions.
Fifth prize: "Al fresco," the nomination of Barbara Dean of Wheaton. She wins a $100 Dimensions certificate as well.
Sixth prize: "Singlish," submitted by Priscilla Ann Hodge of Northwest. She wins a $100 Dimensions certificate, too.
Seventh prize: "Elgnis," which is "single" spelled backward. D. J. Ryder of Annandale sent this one in. "To be single, one isn't backward," he explained on his ballot, "but this word is!" D. J. wins a $100 Dimensions certificate like winners three through six.
Eighth prize: "Monopolite," submitted by Lisa Behren of Northwest. She wins dinner for two at Henry Africa, a restaurant in Alexandria.
Ninth prize: "Unividual," tossed into the hopper by Mary Kazmierski of Stevensville, Md. Mary wins three hours of limousine service, courtesy of Wellington Limousine Service Inc. of Georgetown.
Tenth prize: "Unitist," the invention of Sandra H. Gwynn of Northwest. Sandra wins a floral arrangement from Special Arrangements Les Champs of Watergate.
Eleventh prize: "Automic," nominated by B. Jenkins of Northwest. He or she wins seats for ten in a Capital Centre Sky Suite for a Bullets or Capitals game.
Twelfth: "Wunsum," the candidate of Henry C. Davis Jr. of Northwest. For being so clever, Henry gets a free one-month membership at Skyline Racquet and Health Club Inc., in Falls Church.
Thirteenth: "One-der," a punnish proposal from Pat, Mary and Ann Haffey of Arlington. All they need to do is to find one other person, and they'll make good use of their prize: four seats to a Bullets game.
Fourteenth and finally: "SALEM," proposed by Lee Ann Waffle of Springfield.No, it's not a cigarette. It's an acronym that stands for "Single And Loving Every Minute." Lee Ann, we hope, will love every minute of a Washington Capitals game, which she and three friends will attend, gratis.