Maybe I should forward a copy of this column to Iowa, in time for tonight's caucuses. Dear Candidates: Would you like to know what bugs Americans? Not Contra aid. Not trade barriers. Not unemployment.

Kids interrupting Mom and Dad when it's Up Close and Personal Time.

That's the only conclusion I can draw from the raft of mail that has hit my office in the last month. Not only did our January neologism contest produce the largest number of entries we have ever received (3,600), but hundreds of entries had personal scrawls on them.

Scrawls like, "Happens to us all the time."

Scrawls like, "We have five kids, and I don't know how, since it has happened to us so much."

Thus, it's only fitting that our winner has been through the breaking-of-lovemaking bit herself. "How could I not have been?" said Karen A. Royden of Burke, as we munched a victory seafood lunch at Vincenzo. "I have three daughters."

Here was the challenge Karen met so cleverly:

It's a Saturday night. You and your spouse have finally gotten the kids to bed. You've cleaned up the kitchen. You've finished fighting about money. So you start to get affectionate with one another. Ver-r-r-r-y affectionate with one another. Just as things are becoming especially personal, a voice is heard, from down the hall. It says: "Mommy! I want a drink of water!" This phenomenon is called . . . .

Karen's winning answer:


Our winner is a legislative assistant to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). She had never entered the contest before, and wouldn't have entered this time if the Senate hadn't been in recess. "I finally have some time," she wrote. Glad she found it. Nice word!

Same goes for this month's Almosts and Nearlies. Here they are:

Caught-Us Interruptus: Many of you.

Whine Cooler: Many more of you.

Aguavation: Still more of you.

Pass Interference: Still more.

Love's Labours Lost: Lots and lots of you.

Hydrofoiling: Lots and lots and lots of you.

Mirth Control: Dozens of you.

H2Oh No!: Dozens upon dozens of you.

Nipped in the Bed: Charles R. Miller III of Burke.

Undercover Bust: Naomi Olsen of Lothian, Md.

Oys 'R' Us: Michael E. Beller of Northwest.

Kiss and Yell: Lester J. Demarest of Alexandria.

Upsetting the Grapple Start: Len Wheat of Alexandria.

Lack of Coitusy: Brendan McNelis and Kevin Beede of Silver Spring.

Bed and Brake Fast: Mary Lynn Garms and Bruce Davis of Leesburg.

From the same twosome: Nearly Beloved.

Break in Service: Gurnia C. Michaux of Alexandria.

Drinkmanship: Hannah Fisher of Rockville.

Water Over the Damn: Ed Durall of Reston.

Pitter Patter of Defeat: Nancy Sweeney of Beltsville.

Mid-Wife Crisis: Billy Ajay of Falls Church.

Temporary Restraining Ardor: Carol Bonkosky of Adelphi.

The Oy of Sex: Simon Aronin of Northwest.

L'Eau Blow: Marie Ernst of Alexandria.

Disardorly Conduct: Mort Oakes of Monkton, Md.

Fondle Farewell: Mary Oleson of Chevy Chase.

Watergate Break-in: Scottie Dennison and Jill Mapstead.

Sink or Skin: Mike Stalberg of Arlington.

Scion-ara: Miles Klein of East Brunswick, N.J.

Persona Nongratification: Mairi Furniss of Springfield.

Sought in the Act: Gail Dawson of Columbia.

Oedipus Wrecks: Livezey H. More of Northwest.

Lust Buster: Jim Wyne of Falls Church.

Love Cryangle: Alix Koromzay of Northwest.

Saturday Night Massacre: Carol Winters-Finch of Camp Springs.

Now that we have that aggravation settled, let's work on another. Here's the February challenge (suggested by Blanche G. Cohen of Falls Church):

You've put the supper leftovers away and washed the dishes. You are finally ready to relax. But just as you are about to turn off the kitchen light, you see the one dirty pot you forgot to wash. This phenomenon is called . . . .

The prize is the same as it is each month: A free lunch with Levey, at a restaurant of the winner's choice in the Washington area.

The rules are the same as usual, too. You may enter as often as you like. Joint entries are perfectly all right. Entries may be listed on one piece of paper or several. However, each piece of paper must bear a daytime and evening phone number. Entries will not be accepted by phone and will not be returned. All entries become my property. In case of duplicate entries, the one that arrives earliest is the winner.

February entries must be postmarked by Feb. 29. Please mail entries to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071.