Finally, the balance has been righted in the Moredock household. Months ago, Etta Moredock of Middleburg, Va., submitted what she thought was a dynamite entry for one of Levey's neologism contests. But it never saw the light of day, much less the spotlight of the winner's circle.
"She's been very angry about that," said her husband Jeff. "She can't understand why she didn't win."
All I can say, Mrs. M., is that the neologism contest is now, and has always been, judged by a panel of one. If an entry hits me, it hits me. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I'm sorry your lead-pipe cinch didn't fling me into pirouettes of ecstasy. But aren't you a little happier now that hubby's entry for the summer contest did?
I can only assume so -- and I can only assume there'll be little disagreement in any household over the cleverness of Jeff's answer. I think it's one of the funniest winners I've had the pleasure of choosing in the nearly three years the neologism contest has been running.
This was the challenge Jeff Moredock faced:
You're washing your hands in a public rest room. 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 . . . .
Jeff's winning answer:
If the winning entry sounds like the work of an educated man, it should. Jeff Moredock is a Presbyterian minister who has run summer camps, worked with street gangs in Pittsburgh -- and lately veered into education.
He has taught at prep schools in New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and he has spent the last three years as headmaster of the Foxcroft School, a girls' college prep academy in Middleburg.
What's the secret of his neologistic success? "No secret at all. It was summer," said Jeff.
As any academic well understands, that is the only time of the year Jeff has a chance to open -- much less finish -- the newspaper. But a victory repast of lobster salad, veal provencale and raspberry mousse at Le Lion D'Or made Jeff forget all about unfinished reading -- at least until school starts, which it unavoidably will, a few days from now.
In any case, we're glad you opened the paper on the day you did, Mr. Headmaster. Well done!
Same to the authors of the following honorable mentions:
Damp Yankie: Deborah Cloud of Fairfax and Drew Douglas of Bethesda.
Misripresentation: Debbie McGee of Alexandria and Michael T. Roberts of Rockville.
Wisp of Sheet Nothing: Sandi M. Moore of Silver Spring.
Raggedy Endy: Sally Edmiston of Fairfax.
Wet Lag: Valerie J. Smith of Silver Spring.
Little Shred Hiding Good: Irene Wittig of Arlington.
Terra-Caughtta: Karen L. Walker of Fairfax.
Teeny Mopper: Flora Buchbinder Cowen of Edison, N.J.
W.C. Peels: Bert Shapiro of Bethesda.
In honor of the fabulous journal in which this appears, Washingdone Pest: Karen Werner of Oakton.
Impacted Wispdom: that former champion who is still in top form, Miles Klein of East Brunswick, N.J.
Wet-Shred Excess: Blair H. Curry of Arlington.
Dangling Part-a-Sop-Pull: Rosanne Light of Silver Spring.
Drag Strip: Francis L. Witkege of Arlington.
Reluctant Drag-On: Patricia M. Newton of Bethesda.
Basin Sheet Blues: Ruth P. Kaufman of Silver Spring.
Shellout Falter: Marty Schaffer of Arlington.
And finally, in honor of the prizes that journalism bestows, Pull It Surprise: Mary L. Morgan of Hyattsville.
I'd call this an extraordinary display of punmanship. Many thanks to all entrants -- and may all your towels come out of the dispenser whole forevermore.
And now, class, it's time to don our thinking caps once again. Here's the September challenge, courtesy of Robert A. Miccio of Annandale:
What do you call that awful noise your car makes when you try to start it, only to discover that it's already running?
As always, you may submit as many entries as you like. And, as always, the prize is guaranteed to defeat any diet ever invented. It's a lunch with Levey, at the restaurant of your choice. Best of all, the lunch is free.
Please submit your entries in writing to: Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071. Deadline is Sept. 30.