When you've been a Washingtonian for only eight months, when you have three young kids, when you've moved three times in the last four years, the last thing you have time to do is to subscribe to the local morning fish wrapper, much less read it.
So how in the world could Trish Weisman of Rockville be this month's neologism winner?
Because of a favor.
Her neighbor, Karen Hirsch-Harari, was in the hospital in late March. Trish agreed to pick up Karen's Post each morning so that no burglars got the wrong idea. Trish figured that after collecting each day's paper, glancing through it was the logical next step. On the comics page of March 21, she spotted Levey's April neologistic challenge:
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 . . . .
Trish's winning answer:
That seemed to these eyes like a perfect marriage between what does the braking (the foot) and the gall it takes to do so (chutzpah). Congratulations to a clever and chuckle-inducing winner.
Proponents of conspiracy theories will not find it surprising that Trish Weisman is a bird of a feather: a journalist. She trained as one in Oregon and worked as one there for six years before putting it aside to become a Mom.
The fruits of that latter occupation are Katherine (10), Seth (4) and Hannah (18 months). Husband John is a genetics professor at Catholic University. Trish says she is still trying to decide what to be when she grows up. I didn't have the heart to tell her the awful truth:
If she returns to journalism, she'll rediscover (happily, I trust) that growing up is not in the job description.
Trish Weisman topped the largest field we've ever had in one of our monthly neologism battles -- and one of the most oddly skewed.
GIMME A BRAKE, BRAKE DANCING or NERVOUS BRAKEDOWN showed up on more than half the entries. Many who submitted one of these entries guessed that others would do the same. Others did. But thanks, anyway, all you gimme-ers and brakers and brakedownists. I hope you'll find comfort in numbers.
There were many good ones this time around:
Redunda-Braking: Dorothy Gordon of Bethesda.
Voodoo Brakenomics: John H. Grim of Falls Church.
Involuntary Manslower: Steve Carstens of Silver Spring.
Shotgun Treading: Kevin R. Hardwick and Hilary Holz of Northwest, and Dot Yufer of Markham, Va.
Foot Loose and Antsy Knee: Kathy Miles of Mount Airy, Md.
Brake-Fast at Tough-On-Knees: Sylvia Fesler of Northwest.
Brake-Fast in Dread: Julie Fisher of Reston.
Heels-a-poppin': Dennis L. Hayden of Odenton, Md.
Car Nil Knowledge: Peg Bradley of Greenbelt.
Dis-Thrust: Elaine S. Povich.
Protestant Refloormation: Deborah L. Hensley and Kevin P. Dopart of Bowie.
Hostile Brake-over: Lois Fallat of Northwest.
Auto-Erraticism: Kurt Rabin of Northwest.
Plantar's Punch: Sonja S. Alexander of Vienna.
Faux Pause: Michael Rahn of McLean.
Scanty-Trust Motion: Lisa Campanella of Bethesda.
Dope Pusher: Bill Schultz of Silver Spring.
Vainish Brakery: Fran Sparacino of Silver Spring.
Braking and Mentoring: Tim Westmoreland of Southeast.
A Misspent Hoof: John Eisold of Rockville.
Rein Check: Bernie Zaborowski of Vienna.
Riding the Klutz: Hannah Klein of Wheaton.
Rider's Cramp: Chris Doyle of Burke.
Halter Ego: Beth Lee of Rockville.
With results as good as these, it's obvious that we should try again. Here's the May challenge, courtesy of Beth Teller of Silver Spring:
Your Mama always promised that it would work, and it does. Every time you put on a coat, you hold the cuff of your shirt-sleeve with your fingers, so that the shirt-sleeve won't get jammed somewhere in the upper reaches of the sleeve of the coat. This hold-the-cuff motion is called . . . .
As always, the prize is lunch with (and paid for by) Levey. You may enter as often as you like. But please include your daytime and evening phone numbers on all entries, and mail them to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071. Deadline for this month's contest is June 2.