For most of us, lunch hour is a time to catch up with friends, gossip our little hearts out and pack our faces full of all the calories we so virtuously avoided at breakfast.
But Dale DeJarnette likes to use lunchtime to catch up on her reading. One afternoon last month, in midmouthful, she chanced upon Levey's column.
The one she caught just happened to announce our June neologism contest. And in a matter of seconds, the light bulb above Dale's head just happened to click on.
It was a winning click. Here was the challenge Dale faced:
You're standing there on the Red Line, thinking about a million things, none of which is your raincoat. Suddenly, from behind, without warning, and without asking permission, you feel a hand on your shoulder. You whirl around, to discover that a stranger is tugging on your collar. "It was tucked under," he explains, lamely. What do you call the phenomenon of straightening a stranger's collar without asking or getting permission?
Dale's light-bulb-bright idea:
"I don't know why I thought of it," said Dale, as we chopsticked down a victory lunch of shrimp and chicken at Germaine's. "The only thing like that that's ever happened to me was when the label on my dress was sticking up. But it's always been a woman who's tucked it back under. No weirdos or anything."
The only thing remotely weirdo about Dale's victory is that she's the second Bell Atlantic employe in a row to win this contest.
Last month's best-in-show was Bell Atlantic attorney Larry Katz. Dale works as a quality control manager at the Bell Atlantic offices in Arlington. She's in charge of making sure that the heavy hardware B.A. purchases is up to snuff.
Dale is a 30-year-old graduate of Virginia Tech business school. She has been in Washington for two years, and pronounces herself in love with both the city and her career. And she would like to assure the world that, despite the two-month Bell Atlantic victory streak, "people there do have better things to do than enter word contests."
I'm sure they do, Dale. But if entries as good as yours and Larry's keep coming over the transom, Bell Atlantic will soon be known for more than its perpetual rate increases. If she had lived, Ma Bell would have been proud of you both.
She wouldn't exactly despise the following honorable mentions, either:
Pushing Your Tuck: Connie Freeburger of Bladensburg.
Supercollarfixilisticexpialofficious: Bill Beckett of Northwest.
Incollarable: Alan M. Diamant of Silver Spring.
Neckrofeelya: Steve Bishop of Arlington.
Neck-working: Matthew R. Lehrman of Arlington and James R. Brown of Alexandria.
In honor of the city that's home to The University of Colorado, Aviva Weisel Eichler of Silver Spring suggests Bolder Collar-Outer.
Detuctio Ad Absurdum: John E. Stone of Arlington.
Collar Coordinating: Holly Stewart of Upper Marlboro.
Scarlet Primp Lapel: Bob Maney of Arlington.
Fix and Flee Collar: Diann Hinkle of Woodbridge.
Turn-Up-Out Is Fair Play: Belinda Darnell of Columbia.
Perhaps he's a Bell Atlantican, too? Steve Bickett proposes Collar-Forwarding.
Collaboorationism: Vince Dantone of Bowie.
Right-Collar Crime: Kathy McGill of Oakton.
A Touch of Brass: Al Toner of Arlington and Lori O'Connor of Silver Spring.
A Rogue's Collarship: Ken Howard of Northwest.
Transsubcollaration: Mary S. Esseff of Columbia.
And Fingeround The Collar: Helen Spector of Silver Spring.
From a public irritant, we move to one that's found in a more private place. Here's the July challenge:
You're washing your hands in a public restroom. You finish up at the wash basin and reach for the paper towels. But some genius has packed them into the dispenser so tightly that you can't pull a whole one out. The best you can do is to yank loose about seven-eighths of a sheet. But a little wisp of paper remains stuck in the dispenser. That little wisp is called a . . . .
Since this one will tax your gray matter to the limit (but mostly because many of you will be out of town in the next few weeks), we'll award you extra time to submit your entries. The deadline is Friday, August 23.
The prize doesn't vary with the season, however. It remains a free lunch with Levey, at the restaurant of the winner's choice, in Greater Beltwayland. Obtaining seven-eighths of a paper towel in the rest room afterward is optional.
Please mail your entries to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071. You may enter as often as you like.