Beth Vanderstar is what you mean when you talk about long odds. She isn't a Post subscriber. She isn't a daily Post reader. She isn't a regular Levey fan. But when her eye chanced to fall on my September neologism challenge, Beth knew what to do. She entered -- and she walked off with first prize.
The September challenge was:
You fill a prescription. The pharmacist hands you a plastic bottle with approximately 4 million pills in it. "I'll never finish all those," you say to yourself. And you never do. Your medicine cabinet is perennially full of pill bottles that are half full (or is it half empty?). This phenomenon is called . . . .
Beth's winning answer:
That had all the right elements, it seemed to me. The notion of a prescription. The notion of being stretched to the limit, which the medicine cabinet always is. And Beth's entry was sprinkled liberally with cleverness. That's a tough combination to beat -- and to this jury of one, no one beat it.
Our winner lives in Northwest and works as a stockbroker for Chevy Chase Securities. She's the mother of four accomplished daughters, all in college or just finished with it. She likes sailing and vacations in Connecticut. And she has done more community service in her time than any four people usually do -- much of it as the chairman of the board of Madeira School.
Hats off to a first-time victor. And here's hoping that Beth's victory will give a boost to those readers who have wanted to enter this contest, but have chickened out. Sometimes, like Beth, first-timers walk off with the gold.
Our Almosts and Nearlies were unusual this month. There were more duplicate entries than ever before. So, alas, many of you will not see your names in lights, because of space limitations. But at least your entries will. Here they are:
Pillution: Several of you.
Pilliferation: Quite a few of you.
Cabinet Fever: Many of you.
Pills a Poppin': Many more of you.
Overpill: Still more of you.
Pills' Grim Progress: Still more.
Pillately: Yes, still more.
Far-more-copia (and a few close cousins): Vast numbers of you.
Pharm surplus: Scads of you.
RXcess: Untold dozens of you.
Extrapillation: More than 175 of you.
RXsiduals: Sue Pierce of Rockville.
Ensickliculls: Anna L. Patrick of Alexandria.
Extremedies: Curt Hane of Columbia.
Up Pill Battle: Stephanie Weisband of Manassas.
Bottle Fatigue: Henry Benedict of Poolesville and Christopher E. Hagerup.
Pill-land Obsolescence: Susan Remmert of Silver Spring.
Pillethora: Virginia Green of Columbia, Richard Coleman and Jerry Solberg.
Pillgatory: Linda Cronin of Fairfax and Jan Sperling of Silver Spring.
Doctor's Hoarders: Martha Parker of Silver Spring.
Surpillus: Jon Krieg of Southeast.
Apothecarryover: Bill Beckett of Bethesda.
The Law of Probapillity: Patsy Koehler.
Pillenium: Larry and Judy Doton of Fort Belvoir and Lauren M. Stewart of Burke.
Apothecluttery: Art Kosatka and Jim Gordon.
An Ampule Supply: Scott Dennis.
Narcoterie: Barbara McGarry Peters.
Drugaboo: Peggy Lou Gain of Kensington.
Pillibuster: Don Posey of Odenton.
Pillforage: Jo Brickley of Fulton, Md.
Scrapsules: Frances Sampogna of Silver Spring.
Tyrannosaurus RX: Linda McCoy Cromartie of Arlington.
Medicine Pall: Capt. Jim Ferguson of Southwest.
Cabinet Mete-ing: Marj Watson of Falls Church.
Pharm-messy: Patty Ryan of Rockville.
And Transcendental Medication: Leonard Greenberg of Reston.
Great show! Thank you, one and all. And now that your appetites are thoroughly whetted, we offer up the October challenge (suggested by Judy Hallett of Bethesda):
What do you call people who give gifts that they obviously got as gifts?
As always, first prize is the gift that keeps on giving -- inches at the waist, that is. I refer to a free lunch with the author of these pearls, at a restaurant of the winner's choice inside (or reasonably near) the Beltway.
The rules are these: You may enter as often as you like. Entries may be typed, scrawled or etched in blood. You may use one piece of paper or several. Entries will not be accepted by phone and will not be returned. Entries that do not bear the sender's daytime and evening phone numbers will be disqualified. In case of duplicate entries, the winner will be the one that's postmarked earliest.
Entries for the October challenge must be postmarked no later than Oct. 31. The mailing address is Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071.