Back in February, when I called Lynne Smokler Grossman of Herndon to give her the news, she was utterly delighted. Couldn't wait to tell hubby Stan. Couldn't wait to collect her prize. The very model of victorious enthusiasm.

However, as you can tell from the line across the top of this page, it's not February any more. In fact, it's perilously close to April. And in all that time, Lynne Grossman had still not collected her prize.

It's not that Lynne was shy about winning our February neologism contest. She came down with two consecutive cases of the February Flu, and had to cancel our celebratory lunch. Then Levey came down with 10 consecutive days of vacation, and had to delay the lunch even longer.

But on Tuesday, Lynne finally sent the championship calories down the hatch (in the form of the veal with mushrooms and cognac at Maison Blanche). At last, she stands front and center, honored for a brainstorm worthy of the name.

The challenge she and about 2,500 other entrants took a swing at was:

Your back is itching like crazy, but you can't reach the itch. You throw yourself on the mercy of the nearest available human being. You proceed to issue directions ("To the left! . . . .Now up just a smidgen! . . . .Now right! No, silly, MY right!"). By the time the hapless helper finally locates The Spot, the itch has disappeared. This phenomenon is called . . . .

Lynne's answer was:


Lynne admits she has never read "Catch-22." But to chase all around the point without hitting it is the essence of that book -- and of Itch-22, also.

May Lynne's itches never again bedevil her. More accurately, may Stan find them all before they pull an Itch-22.

Our winner does a lot more than get itches and flu at inopportune times. Lynne Grossman is an audiologist by training who has lately taken up a new career as a mathematics tutor for high school and junior high school students.

She was born in Boston, but grew up in Fairfax County, where she was a member of the original graduating class at Robinson High School. No pitter-patter of little feet for the Grossmans yet -- only the galumphing of a 50-pound Siberian husky named Kahlua.

At least when Kahlua itches, he knows what to do. He doesn't enter contests or head for French restaurants. He just rolls over and rubs until it feels better. Smart fella.

Nothing but smart fellas and gals among this month's Nearlies. The best of that bunch:

Slipped Itch: Cindy Jaynes of Fairfax and Jane Langloh of Arlington.

Back to the Future: Jacquie Phillips-Ruppert.

Grand-Rubman: Paul J. Rossettie of Arlington.

Passing Antsy: Karen Chambers of Annandale.

Veni Vidi Vitchi: Dave Callaiman of Fairfax.

Itchabod Vain: Judy Jones of Falls Church.

And a first cousin, Itchabod Wane: Paul Astrow of Springfield.

Itch Back to Square One: Linda Bock of Bowie.

Itchee Come, Itchee Go: Dr. Tom Whelan and Stephen Gurwitz.

Con-Itch-Shun Fit: Barbara Esser of Waldorf.

Relief Itcher: Cathie Rosenfeld of Olney.

Back Magic: Patricia Schultz of Silver Spring.

Carry-on Backitch: Jane Hess of Northwest.

Carnal Null Itch: Janet Minor.

Scratch As Scratch Can: Helen R. Simon of Silver Spring.

Locus Pokus: Anna L. Patrick of Alexandria.

Sorry, Wrong Lumbar: Karla Aranjo of Fairfield, Conn.

Itch Academic: David Doherty of Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Spinal Flap: Bob Jones of Northwest.

Paradise Lost: Lena Goldstein of Northwest.

Big Back Attack: Linda Nevitte.

And Phantom of the Scapula, an oooh-so-close submission from a former winner, Dr. David J. Haidak.

Well done, gang! Now try your hand (or should I say foot?) at this one. It was submitted by Thea M. Williams of Forestville.

Some people are so used to driving their own cars that they make absolutely awful passengers. How awful? This awful: They'll notice that the driver is about to smash into the car in front of him. So they will "put their foot on the brake" by stomping on the floor in front of them, even though that won't do a thing to slow down the car. This futile (and obnoxious) braking reflex by the person riding shotgun is called . . . .

As usual, the winner collects (and consumes) lunch at the eatery of his choice in Greater Beltwayland, with Levey handling the tab. Delays because of flu are permitted, but not encouraged.

Please be sure to include your phone number on all entries. You may enter as often as you like. Please mail entries to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071. Deadline for the March/April contest is April 25.