You know what they say about raining and pouring. But after last week, Joe Zabel of Germantown knows better than any of us.

First, Joe won an album from a radio station for unscrambling an anagram of Stevie Wonder's name. Then he won a compact disk from another station for knowing the first names of John Lennon's parents. Then, the phone rang, and it was the deepest baritone in the Levey household, telling Joe that he had won our midsummer neologism contest.

The challenge that Joe faced was:

The modern single woman knows she shouldn't do it, but it's hard to avoid. She meets a man she likes, and might like to get to know better. She gives him her phone number. He says he'll call. He doesn't. And doesn't. But maybe tonight he will! So Our Heroine kills another evening by the phone, waiting for it to ring. This phenomenon is called . . . .

Joe's winning answer:


Our winner says he honed his winning wit by gorging on Marx Brothers movies as a kid. He must be telling the truth, because how else would he have won? He isn't female, he isn't a heartbreaking cad and he isn't single. All he is is clever.

Joe works as a consultant on nuclear waste matters to the Department of Energy. He's a local all the way, having graduated from Good Counsel High School in Wheaton and The University of Maryland. And he is a humble sort. Even in his Winning Week, he told me he couldn't believe his neologism entry was good enough for first prize. But it was. And deservedly.

This month's Almosts and Nearlies were pretty deserving, too. The best of them:

Vigil Annie: Carole S. Fungaroli of Annandale.

A Lass and a Lack: Yvonne Pover of Arlington.

Wait Watcher: Jean Carter of McLean.

Mantasia: Barbara Ackerman of Silver Spring.

Sitzkrieg: Dr. Saul Rosen of Bethesda.

Silent Night: Monica D. Jackson of Forestville.

Uncalled For: Hank Wallace of Northwest.

Hopeadope: Charles A. Owen Jr. of Marlow Heights.

Nobell-Surprised: David P. C. Keltner of Alexandria.

Rouelette: Barbara McGarry Peters of Alexandria.

Adamant Eve: The same Ms. Peters.

Call Wanting: Charles Ebbets and Diane Ritchie of Warrenton.

No Bell A Me: Joseph C. Carr of Silver Spring.

On a Ring and a Prayer: Pete Spartin and Heather Frazier.

Hope Opera: Livezey H. More of Northwest.

Ring Squirm: William H. Reynolds of Northwest.

Melancallia: Bill Beckett of Bethesda.

Panticipation: Louise Ferreras of McLean.

Ma Bell Sans Merci: Barbara Addams.

Little Night Musing: Blaise Gately of Arlington.

Nocturnal Optimiss: Fran Spaeder of McLean.

Date Expectations: Becky Rose and Colm Murtagh of Takoma Park, and John Cromwell of Columbia.

Female Into-Wishin': Michael Nichols of Burtonsville.

Ms. Taken: Judy Doton of Fort Belvoir.

Man Oh La Won'tcha?: Mary Ann Coyle of Berwyn Heights.

Dawdling for Dialers: Charlotte Ponticelli of Baltimore.

Roue Awaitening: Ruth P. Bloom of Bethesda.

Fiber Optimism: Mary E. B. Nagle of Wheaton.

Un-Phone Terrible: Nick Olcott of Southeast.

Wronged Number: Marie Anne Erickson of Braddock Heights and John Meakem.

Slaved by the Bell: Bill North-Rudin of Alexandria.

Suspended Man-Awaition: Sue Simmonds of Arlington.

The Shaming of the True: Mary Nicholson.

On the Road to Man Delay: Norm Weberg of Sterling.

If our lovestruck young lady ever gets sick while waiting for the phone to ring, the September challenge is just what she needs. Thinking caps on, gang. Here it is:

You fill a prescription. The pharmacist hands you a plastic bottle with approximately four million pills in it. "I'll never finish all those," you say to yourself. And you never do. Your medicine cabinet is perenially full of pill bottles that are half full (or is it half empty?) This phenomenon is called . . . .

The winner of the September challenge may need indigestion pills, but not until after first prize is consumed. It's a free lunch, with Levey along for company, at a Washington-area restaurant of the winner's choice.

Recapping the rules: You may enter as often as you like, on one piece of paper or several. Entries will not be accepted by phone and will not be returned. No entry will be considered unless it bears the thinker-upper's daytime and evening phone numbers. In the case of duplicate entries, the winner will be the one postmarked earliest.

Entries should be postmarked no later than Sept. 30. The mailing address is Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071.