Here's your companion," said the hostess, motioning toward a woman at a table in the back. Indeed, the woman shook my hand and identified herself as Louise Shelton. But I suspected there must be some mistake.
My luncheon partner was wearing a sleeveless black and white dress. True, it was a muggy 80-degree day in June. But still, you'd think that the winner of a neologism contest about shirtsleeves would show up with cloth all the way down to each wrist, so as to demonstrate her form.
Louise Shelton didn't demonstrate any cuffmanship. But she did say she has taught the hold-the-cuff method of avoiding bunchiness of the sleeves to all four of her daughters and all five of her grandchildren. Now she is about to teach her term for it to all of Bob Levey's Washingtonians.
Here is the June challenge that Louise faced:
Mama always promised that it would work, and it does. Every time you put on a coat, you hold the cuff of your shirtsleeve with your fingers, so that the shirtsleeve won't get jammed somewhere in the upper reaches of the coat. This hold-the-cuff motion is called . . . .
That seemed to say it with style, brevity and just the right dollop of punsterism. Even better was what happened when I got to know Louise. I discovered that she was using her victory lunch to recreate a pleasant memory from half a century ago.
For her celebratory caloriefest, Louise chose A V Ristorante, a humble Italian place at Sixth Street and New York Avenue NW. Why choose such simple surroundings, when the expense account palaces of downtown beckoned?
"Because this is the first place I ever tasted pizza," said Louise. Last Friday, as she tasted it again, she pronounced it "as good as the first time I had it." That, kiddies, was before World War II.
Louise Shelton came to Washington in 1935 from St. Louis to take a job as a federal government messenger for $1,080 a year. She married John Shelton in 1940, and cofounded John L. Shelton, Inc., a real estate company in Southeast, in 1947. She has helped run the business ever since -- with her husband until his death five years ago, and now with a daughter.
Louise also shares pizza. Two slices of it. With balloon-bellied typists who don't need it. But who liked the taste just as much as she did.
Nice favor to do, Louise. Just as nice as your winning entry.
Here's a galaxy of entries that were almost winners themselves:
Loose Sleeve Binder: Michael Bongiovi of Springfield.
Cuffirmation: Paul Dufrene of Alexandria.
Knucklear Regarmament: Bob Coren of Columbia.
Debunchery: Barry Boyce of Northwest.
Cuff Suppressant: Marty Schaffer of Arlington.
Knuckle Jam-Wich: Lynda Romano of Herndon.
Wristy Business: Kathy and Brad Johns of Berwyn Heights.
Cuff the Magic Drag-On: Cynthia G. Wagner of Bethesda, Bob Cascella of Alexandria and Bill Beckett.
Even Sleevin': Mary J. Smuck of Deale, Md., Marshall N. Heyman of Falls Church and Judith L. Howell of Northwest.
Cuffy Clutch: Daphne Louise Schwamm of Northwest, Karen Swetlow of Gaithersburg and a pair of illegibles: Joyce Something of Gaines Avenue in Rockville and John Something Else of North Oxford Street in Arlington.
Counterbunching: Joseph Langenfeld of Southwest.
Writhing to the Occasion: Richard De Angelis of College Park.
Unreachable Shirtend Seizure: Hank Wallace of Northwest (yes, he's a lawyer).
A Case of A Wristed Development: Michael F. Crotty of Laurel (he's one, too).
Strategic Arms Limitation: Catherine Ellett of Rockville.
Battle of Arm-a-Get-In: Frances B. Hagan and Robert A. Templeton of Arlington.
And lastly, a nice, neat simple one -- Sleeve Labor: Judith P. Hallett of Bethesda, Jeff Covel of Arlington, Susanne Bardelson of Herndon and Nan Terpak of Arlington.
On to a new challenge, neologists. Feast your molars on this one (suggested by James O. Stevenson of Bethesda):
What do you call the habit of a baseball player who, stepping up to bat, knocks imaginary mud off the cleats of his shoes, not once, but several times?
As is our custom, the winner receives a free lunch (who says there's no such thing?) at the restaurant of his/her choice, in Washington or reasonably nearby. You may enter as often as you like, in one envelope or many. But please be sure to include a daytime and evening phone number on all entries. Mail them to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071. The deadline for this month's contest is July 4.