Some day, Jerry Wieber may get over winning the contest. But he may never get over the way he got the news.
On a cold Tuesday evening, a knock was heard at Jerry's College Park door. At the time, he and his five roommates -- all students at the University of Maryland -- were sitting down to dinner.
Quicker than it takes to write it, a strange man (and his pig-tailed three-year-old daughter, who had come along for the ride) were standing in the living room and offering Jerry congratulations. There were more shocked faces around that dinner table than you'd see in a month of horror movies.
Why the Midnight Ride of Bob and Emily Levey? Because Jerry had spent so much energy thinking up the winner of my funny country music song title contest that he'd forgotten to list his phone number on his entry.
After spending half of Tuesday afternoon trying to run Jerry down by phone, the elder Levey decided it was time to take matters -- and the steering wheel -- in his own hands. But why not spend the extra effort, when Jerry's entry was so extra-excellent? It was:
"He Promised Me The World, But He Gave Me New Jersey."
For such cleverness, Jerry wins not only enduring fame here among the comics, but a guest appearance this very morning on KIX-Country (105.9 FM and 730 AM), a radio station in Alexandria that plays country music long, loud and lovely every day.
If you're reading this before 8 a.m., you can catch Jerry's act in just a few minutes, as he's interviewed by John Bodnar and Paul Bottoms of KIX. Then Jerry, John, Paul and I will head for a victory brunch that'll put any diet book to shame.
Jerry is a third-year computer sciences major at College Park. He grew up in Maryland, not New Jersey. So why beat up on the Garden State? "I've been through it a few times," he said, with a wink. Obviously, the memory lingered, as Jersey memories (and aromas) so often do.
Lingering, too, will be the memory of the following Almosts and Nearlies. As a country lyric might put it, they came close enough to Jerry to make him feel the breeze.
"Her Hair Was So Red, Her Eyes So Blue, She Loved My Truck, But The Bank Did, Too" -- Dee Bright of Woodbridge.
"Why Can't You Rub Me So Good as the Turtle Wax on Your Pickup's Hood?" -- Susan Paynter.
"Our Love Is Strong But It Can't Go On, 'Cause Your Friends Are Yuppies and Mine's Grits." -- Cathe Warford of Falls Church.
"You Were the Light of My Life Till You Forgot to Pay the Electric Bill" -- Irene Fulton of Greenbelt.
"You Can't Buy My Love With Your Superfund 'Cause Your Heart Is a Toxic Waste" -- Tom Edmondson of Alexandria and Margaret Breinholt of Annandale.
"Pabst Blue Ribbon Has Rusted the Gears of Our Love" -- Jeff Spinks of Oakton.
"You Said, 'Bless Your Heart,' But It Was My Liver That Needed Help" -- Arnold Malhmood of Gaithersburg.
"I'm a Shoelace Lover in a Velcro World" -- Paul Hadlock of Stafford, Va.
"I Can't Hold the Signal on Your Channel-Flippin' Love" -- Sally Edmiston of Fairfax.
"The Marines Called Her Apple, 'Cause She Was Good to the Corps" -- Bob Templeton of Arlington.
"You Must Have Been Built in Detroit City, 'Cause Somebody Recalled Your Heart" -- Nancy Oglesby of Arlington.
"How Could a 12-Year-Old Whiskey Whup a Man That's 34?" -- Cyndy Powell of Arlington.
"I Ain't Gettin' No Heart Transplant Operation 'Cause You'd Probably Break That One Too" -- Elliott B. Jaffa of Arlington.
"I Can't Get Over You, So You're Gonna Have to Get Up and Turn off the Light By Yourself" -- Wayne Madsen of Waldorf.
"You Started a Forest Fire in Me, But Your Wife Made You Put It Out" -- Jocelyne Gessner of University Park.
"They Took My House, My Truck, and Cow Named Bess, When I Was Audited by the IRS" -- Richard D. Sorensen of Olney.
"I'd Marry Your Dog Just to Be a Part of Your Family" -- J. Michael Barcus of Germantown.
"Heaven Is a Beef Jerky, a Grape Slurpie and You" -- John Paulman of Reston.
"Since You Spun Out of My Life, I've Been Runnin' Under the Yaller Flag in the Grand Prix of Love" -- Joann S. Noonan of Arlington.
Two from Gary Jordan: "Jesus, When You Come Back, Bring Elvis," and "I Can't Write Cheating Songs Because My Wife's Too Insecure."
Finally, these Oh-So-Washington entries from Peggy Wilson of Fairfax (who sent in 90 of them!): "Have Another Drink, Darlin', Sandra Day O'Connor Ain't the Only One Needs to Loosen Up," and (in honor of the amorous Jenrettes) "He Took Me to the Capitol Steps, But All We Did Was Talk."
Lots of fun! Congrats, Jerry, and thanks, all entrants.