The Plunger Games, of course. (Bob Staake for The Washington Post )
New for Week 1088: Ask Backwards
with our answers, your questions

(Click here to skip down to this week’s winning limericks)

*The Plunger Games ● *An octopus doing the Hokey Pokey ● Rick Perry’s glasses ● *A man, a plan, a cannoli ● *iPad Thai ● A joyride in a Ferrari ● Not Kim Kardashian, but Kanye West ● A cross-country trip in a Miata ● ● 14, 102 and 39,000 ● *Mary had a Little Lemming ● *Romeo and Joliet ● *Tysons Coroner ● *James and the Giant Brussels Sprout ● A Your Mama joke about a bicycle ● The print version of The Washington Post

Forty contests ago, the last time we ran our perennial Ask Backwards — in which we give the answers and you supply the questions — one of the 12 categories was “An answer for the next Ask Backwards.” The Empress printed just one entry for that category in the results of Week 1048: “What will cause you to invent several genuinely funny entries while reading the results of the next Ask Backwards?” (Frank Osen). But there were lots of actual suggestions for categories — and eight of them are the asterisked items in the list above (three by Chris Doyle; two by Cheryl Davis; and one each by Howard Walderman, Alex Jeffrey and Barbara Turner). It’s the regular drill, but with a few more choices than usual: Above are 16 answers. You supply the questions to as many of the answers as you like, up to the usual 25 entries total. In your entry, write the answer first, then your question.

Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. And speaking of milking material from earlier contests: Second place receives one of our favorite items of promotional swag ever, courtesy of the National Pest Management Association: It’s Pest World, a set of lacquered wooden Russian-style nesting dolls with various household critters painted on them, all fitting into a pestilent little round house. We were shocked that the initial winner of this prize, in Week 1067, told us not to bother sending it. While the Empress coveted this prize for her own house, Mount Vermin, it demands to be in the home of a genuine Loser.

We can’t get rid of ’em! Pest World nesting dolls with critters painted on them, our second prize once again. (Actual dead stink bugs added for scale and general yuckiness.) (Pat Myers/The Washington Post )

Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet, either the Po’ Wit Laureate or Puns of Steel. First Offenders receive a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to or, if you were born in the 19th century, fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Sept. 15; results published Oct. 5 (online Oct. 2). No more than 25 entries per entrant per contest. Include “Week 1088” in your e-mail subject line or it might be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at This week’s honorable-mentions subhead is by Tom Witte; the alternative headline for the “next week’s results” line is by Beverley Sharp. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at, and click “like” on Style Invitational Ink of the Day at

The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column (published late Thursday afternoons) discusses each new contest and set of results. Especially if you plan to enter, check it out at

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .


Our annual contest to write a limerick featuring a word from one sliver of the dictionary — this year, words beginning fi- through fo- — yielded 848 efforts, a large number of them utterly failing to follow even the mini-nutshell rule that Lines 1, 2 and 5 have to include the rhythm of “hickory-dickory-dock”; and Lines 3 and 4, “dickory-dock.” But as always, it doesn’t matter if even 800 of them stank up the joint — as long as the rest were this good:

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:

A new horsemeat to-do! There’s no telling
That it’s clear what our vendors are selling –
Like the sandwich I’d bought
From a truck, when I thought
“Filly cheesesteak” was just a misspelling! (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)

2nd place and the Pee-wee Herman doll:

Law enforcement was wrong to endorse
Making SWAT teams a matter of course
In the war against drugs,
Since police become thugs
When they make it a habit of force. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

3rd place

I recall, as we sit by the fireside,
How exciting the life I’ve led by ’er side:
When my football side scored
She’d make love, to reward
Not just me, but each man — the entire side. (Hugh Thirlway, The Hague)

4th place

Informality’s fine among blokes,
Buds and gal-pals, but everyone chokes
When the dude who’s our prez
Quite offhandedly sez,
Yeah, too bad that “we tortured some folks.” (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

Lo-fi: honorable mentions

The newborn colt’s life had just started
When the stable boss, cruel and coldhearted,
Turned the mare into glue.
It’s a tale we all rue:
Just a foal and his mommy soon parted. (Matt Monitto, Bristol, Conn.)

The middle-aged man sadly said,
“I’ve been losing the hair from my head.
And it seems diabolical
That every last follicle
Has appeared on my back now, instead!” (Christopher Lamora, Los Angeles; we can vouch for the first part but haven’t seen his back)

Mr. Jones is a fop; his attire
Shows the flair to which many aspire,
But with haute couture tweeds
From Milan, he exceeds
What his ditch-digging job would require. (Brendan Beary)

Bruce Wayne gave up trying to raise
Young Dick Grayson, who’d run off for days:
He’d turn up at the edges
Of ornate floral hedges:
The ward lurks in wisteria’s maze. (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)

If to undo a law you connive,
Don’t ask Congress — they’re barely alive.
Just go straight to the clowns
In the silly black gowns:
All you need is to sell it to five. (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)

The McDonnells, with lack of finesse,
Let a pal fill their lives with largess.
In return they were shills
For his nostrums and pills:
Their “oblige” lacked a certain noblesse. (Dan O’Day, Alexandria, Va.)

Said the hipster, “It’s weird to behold:
Vintage clothes leave today’s fogies cold,
From checked shirts to knit ties
To those hats shaped like pies.
Age is wasted, it seems, on the old.” (Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)

Some think fornication is sin.
An act they are squarely agin’.
But faced with the chance
For some no-strings romance,
I suspect most would give it a spin. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

I'm aghast at the tasteless depiction
Of sex in contemporary fiction:
Just impulsive insertion,
Agitation, exertion —
Hence, as reader, my hopeless addiction. (Hugh Thirlway)

I’m not lacking in charm or in wit,
And my body is ripped — that’s not it —
Though I’m perfectly nice
Seems the girls won’t look twice
At a guy who’s not fiscally fit. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

Flabellation just means that you fan,
Though my aunt caused a scene in Spokane
When the temperature flared,
And at church, she declared
She would flabellate any hot man. (Frank Osen)

At the loss of my hair I am placid,
And my beer gut don’t raise stomach acid,
But big Pharma has learned
They’ll get all that I’ve earned
By instilling fear that I’ll go flaccid. (Harvey Smith, McLean, Va.)

This Olympian showed us his mettle;
For convention he just couldn’t settle.
It was over the top
For the Fosbury Flop
Also known as “arse over teakettle.” (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)

There once was a Scotsman named Smith,
 And his penchant for liquor?  No myth.
 He was traveling north
 On the Firth of the Forth
 When he guzzled a fourth of the fifth.  (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

It’s said that one ought to forgive;
 It’s better to live and let live.
But with some fools we suffer,
 That job might be tougher
 Than pushing cement through a sieve.  (Mae Scanlan, Washington)

Since Kim K. has been fiscally shrewd
And from time to time physically lewd,
Any way you define
Our Ms. K’s bottom line,
There’s no doubt that much interest’s accrued. (David Swerdloff, Washington)

We practice as hard as we can
But still there are flukes we don’t plan:
The fluffed bump-and-run,
The freak hole-in-one,
Or when the mis-hit hits the fan. (Graham Lester, Roeland Park, Kan.)

This app can send pheromones yonder,
And my husband’s now off to Rwanda.
Hope he calls on the phone
When he’s feeling alone,
Because app scents can make a heart fonder. (Chris Doyle)

An excited young fellow named Dan
Had big plans for his date with Diane.
But as she posed demurely
He, quite prematurely,
Was finished before he began. (Craig Dykstra)

I kept mum (didn’t want him to suffer),
When my golfing companion, a duffer,
Said his daughter coifs hair
In the movies somewhere
In L.A., and is now the head fluffer. (Chris Doyle)

Your clothes have been hastily doffed,
And your paramour begs to be boffed,
You’re entwined in the sack,
But a member you lack —
Drat! It’s flaccid — it’s hard to be soft. (Diane Wah, Seattle)

A “bosun” is someone who’s facile
At shortening terms like “fore-castle.”
That fo’c’s’le is great
As the place to relate
How your lubberly cap’n’s an as’le. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

A fiasco’s a total debacle.
What example will serve? Oh, Iraq’ll.
Or a limerick whose rhyme
Runs out ere the fifth line,
And you flail around and eventually give up. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

Still running — deadline Monday night: our contest for novel college courses. See .

Next week’s results: Eww-venirs, or Improprietors, ideas for what items might be sold at various real or imagined gift shops. See