A woman frowned into the bedroom mirror. “Ugh,” she said despondently to her husband, “I look so old, so fat, so ugly. Honey, I really need you to tell me something good about me.”
“Well,” he answered agreeably, “your eyesight’s darn near perfect.”
And then the fight started. . .
It’s an old joke, notes occasional Loser Bill Verkuilen of Minnesota. And jokes with the same tag line — basically, the genre incorporates dialogue featuring a cleverly cutting remark — are all over the Web. Your job, of course, is to top them with your own. This week: Tell us an original joke ending with “And then the fight started.” Stealing will prompt a very nasty fight. And keep them concise while still telling the joke entertainingly. (The example above is 43 words without the tag line.)
Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives two fine volumes: “Go to Hell,” which is a lighthearted book about various cultures’ concepts of the underworld, but more notably a gift (now regifted) to Loser Tom Witte from his devoted son-in-law; and the fine volume “Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School,” courtesy of Cheryl Davis. The book demonstrates why Ben was such an early champion of free speech.
Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders get a tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Jan. 23; results published Feb. 12 (Feb. 10 online). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 954” in your e-mail subject line or it may be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational. The revised title for next week is by Kathy El-Assal; the subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Judy Blanchard. Join the Style Invitational Devotees on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev.
in which we asked for examples of the Yiddish term “chutzpah” — basically astonishingly nervy gall — to match Leo Rosten’s classic example of a man who murders his parents and then asks the court for mercy because he’s an orphan. A number of people submitted incidents from their own lives; while we’re sure they made the entrants’ jaws drop at the time, our own mandible stayed fairly horizontal during the judging.
Chutzpah is criticizing a part of the first lady’s anatomy despite having – no, being – a far bigger one yourself. (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)
2. Winner of the music box that plays “If I Only Had a Brain” (and, remember, “da noiv”): “Chutzpah” is the word Barack Obama wanted to use instead of “audacity” in the title of his book, but he didn’t have the chutzpah. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)
3. Saying to the police officer, “Okay, I’ll count backward by sevens drunk if you can do it sober.” (Elden Carnahan, Laurel, Md.)
4. A true one: When your neighbors down the street invite you to an open-house party and the pictures on the wall all have price tags. (I don’t think they read the Invitational.) (Roy Ashley, Washington)
Chutzpah is thinking that you’re as smart as Newt Gingrich . . . thinks he is. (John Glenn, Tyler, Tex.)
“Jesus, I’m grateful you raptured me and I wasn’t left behind. But, you know, I had a hat. . . .” (David Genser, Poway, Calif.)
Claiming that God was on your side in a bowl game when you don’t even know what college God went to. (Neal Starkman, Seattle)
Before starting a pyramid investment scheme, legally changing your name to Ponzi. (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)
“Tonight, in the fourth of my eight State of the Union addresses. . . .” (David Genser)
Driving to a NASCAR race in Darlington, S.C., in a truck with this on the bumper. (Elden Carnahan)
On a first date, I always bring a set of luxury sheets, since whatever thread count she has is not likely to suit my skin. (David Kleinbard, Jersey City)
Telling Your Mama jokes to your kid. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
When you give someone the shirt off your back and he asks you for the cuff links. (Robert Schechter)
The guy who won’t use a condom with his mistress because he’s Catholic. (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)
Another true one: Martin Stoner, 60, entered a Young Concert Artists music competition in New York but was rejected as too old. He sued for age discrimination, but then requested a new judge because the one he got, age 88, was “too old.” (Jon Spell, Orem, Utah)
Chutzpah is writing “See you in September!” at the bottom of your Harvard application. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
One more true one: Chutzpah is telling a bunch of 6-foot-5 dudes who bench-press 500 pounds to wear skintight outfits with yellow and black zigzaggy patches on one side and red and white key thingies on the other. Plus matching hats and shoes. (Nan Reiner)
Pronouncing “chutzpah” with a ch- as in “chair,” as Michele Bachmann famously did a few months ago, then insisting that’s the proper American way to say it. (Brad Alexander, Wanneroo, Australia)
And Last: Murdering your parents, throwing yourself on the mercy of the court because you’re an orphan, and then telling about it as an entry to the Style Invitational. (Gregory Koch, Storrs, Conn.)
Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, where the Empress discusses today’s new contest and results along with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, write to the Empress at email@example.com (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.
Next week: Say That Again, or Two Sense Worth