It was a quintessentially political question. So who better to win the contest than a quintessential Washingtonian?
She's Jan Sperling, now from Silver Spring but originally from Northwest Washington. Jan graduated from Coolidge High School and George Washington University. She was raised on the Redskins, and still blocks out autumn Sundays to watch them on TV. And now she has proven, in this city of savviness, that she was the savviest entrant in Levey's September neologism contest.
The September challenge, to which Jan and more than 3,000 others responded, was:
The woods are full of Democrats who may challenge George Bush in 1992. But whenever anyone asks any of these "potentials" if he's running, the answer is always a dodge, a duck or a finesse. This refusal to give a straight answer to a straight political question is called . . . .
Jan's winning answer: Democrisy.
That looked to me like the perfect marriage between "Democrats" and "hypocrisy." Moreover, "democrisy" was a cute play on the system we hold so dear. All in all, a stand-out choice.
Jan Sperling is an office assistant to a Silver Spring ophthalmologist. She has two grown children and a husband, Arnold, whom she met 30 years ago at the National Institutes of Health while both were trying out for a play.
But Jan Sperling also has determination -- to win again. During our victory lunch, I gave her a sneak preview of the October challenge, which appears below. She immediately whipped out a piece of paper and began jotting down brainstorms.
This, dear friends, is how winners get that way. Well done, Jan -- and may you grab the roses a a second time.
This month's Almosts and Nearlies were close to rose material themselves:
Shampaigning: David M. Lewis Jr. of Springfield.
Demurcracy: Lucy Hladecek of Fairfax Station and former champ Miles Klein of Asbury Park, N.J.
Election-veering: Dennis Chamot of Burke.
Duxtaposition: Neil Shawen of Falls Church and Anne Underwood of Arlington.
Dodge Pol: William Dunlop of Takoma Park, Holly Van Houten of Northwest Washington and Pat Bennett of Southwest.
Elective Perjury: Bee Buckel of Adelphi and Gloria Parloff of Bethesda.
Shirkemloquestion: Former champ Charles L. Vlcek of Bowie.
Pol-i-shticks: Mark Bustin of Falls Church.
Locuomotion: The team of Mary K. Wall and Ray Goldstein of Falls Church.
Lingtwistics: Judith M. Pitcher of Northwest Washington.
Obfuzzskatin: Former champ G. Michael Howard of Storrs, Conn.
A Mini-Skirt: Ernie Teutschbein of Arlington.
Gerrymeandering: Michael Garfield of McLean and former champ Sandra Hull of Alexandria.
Politricks: Bobbie Liegus of Alexandria first, then hordes of imitators.
Demo-dodgery: Marjorie Berry and Bill Casciato of Woodbridge.
Duck-Bush Platitude: Marty Adler of Potomac.
Feint Accompli: Rita Coffman of Northwest Washington.
Eelectioneering: Former champ Judy Stainer of Columbia.
Hack's Evasion: Harvey J. Wilcox of Arlington.
Hedgitation: Posy Jim of Latrobe, Pa.
Bushy Footing: Former champ Bill Beckett of Bethesda.
GOP Out: Edgar Mendez-Chacon of Woodbridge.
Candidain't: Hannah Klein of Wheaton and (with a similar form) Judith Mangubat of Cheverly.
Demogaggery: Leonard Greenberg of Reston.
And Campfeigning: John J. Crowley of Falls Church.
Stellar as usual, troops. Will October produce the same? Let's give it a whirl. Here's the October challenge:
Your 16-year-old son has just gotten his driver's license. He has never before driven the family car without his mother or father beside him. But now, the law says he can, so your son asks for the keys. As he disappears over the horizon, by himself, the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach is called . . . .
First prize will shape up the pit of your stomach in a big way: Lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in Washington or close enough to keep the accounting department off my neck. If you'd like to have your 16-year-old son drive you to the restaurant, that'll be just fine (as long as I don't have to be a passenger).
Rules of the contest: You may enter as often as you like, on one piece of paper or many. Each piece of paper must bear a daytime and an evening phone number, including an area code. All entries become my property. Entries will not be accepted by phone or returned. In case of duplicate entries, the one postmarked earliest wins.
Please mail entries to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071. Entries for the October contest must be received by Oct. 31.