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From a Long Way Off, Neologistic Victory

by Bob Levey

No, said Susan Mayer, she has never seen Glamour or Cosmopolitan magazines on sale in her home town of Kigali, Rwanda.

But you can get a copy of Paris Match for about 4,000 amafaranga, and who knows? Rwandan men probably check out the sex advice articles the same way American men do here.

There's no "probably" about what has just happened to Susan. Even though she lives more than 10,000 miles from my desk and my tubful of entries, she has just won my May neologism contest.

The monthly challenge, to which Susan and about 3,000 fellow word maker-uppers responded, was:

You're a man who's checking out of the grocery store. You can't resist picking up one of the magazines that always have sex-related cover stories. As you're reading "How to Drive Her Wild in Four Easy Lessons," the checkout clerk (a woman) asks in a friendly way, "So what's that you're reading?" Your embarrassment is called...

Susan's winning reply:

Rouenation.

What a delicious merger of "roue" (French for a man who knows his way around) and "ruination"!

I knew that Susan's coinage was firmly in the finals the second I saw it. It was grabbing the brass ring a couple of hours later, when all was said and done.

Susan is no stranger to first prize in this contest. She won it about three years ago, when she lived here and worked at Georgetown University.

She's heading home from Africa in August, and she promises to enter again then (if not sooner).

In the meantime, she very generously donated the value of her victory lunch to my annual Send a Kid to Camp fundraising campaign. Thanks so much.

Susan can't claim that her triumph was inspired by Rwanda. In Kigali, "what's a checkout lane, anyway?" she says. But she has proven that she is as sharp as she was the first time she won.

By the way, Susan is the third two-time winner of this venerable competition (17 years and counting). No one has ever won it three times. Will she be the first? Don't bet against it. Congratulations!

Almosts and Nearlies for the May contest were:

Denaisle: Carol Pozefsky, of West New York, N.J., and Amy Springirth.

Elle-lapse: Max Handelsman.

Cosmortification: Lee Bragg first, then 37 more exactly the same.

Gulpability: Sidney Secular, of Silver Spring.

Aislelash: Ron Vertone, of Chicago.

Carntretemps: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg.

Magnominy: Margaret Holton.

Supermartification: Zora Margolis.

Clerkaclysm: Debra Macklin.

Who-me-liation: Former champ Karen E. Holt, of Charlottesville, and Clarence M. Johnson, of Beltsville.

Queuemiliation: Walter Weinschenk, of Gaithersburg, and Joseph Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa.

Mortabfication: Emelda Valadez.

Indecent Checksposure: Mary Frances Ryan.

Magaz-indignity: Alyssa Homan.

Dishormony: Larry Pearl, of Capitol Hill.

Cashsheared: Nick Flokos, of McLean.

Peeriodicaught: Former champ Marlene B. Cohen, of Columbia.

Readhanded: Kathy McMillin first, then many, many more.

Heh-heh-heh-sitation: Former champ Phil Ehrenkranz, of Taylorstown, Va.

Esquirm: Craig Wolf.

Impeepriety: Kathi Brown, of Charlottesville.

Vex-elle-ation: Sheila Gregory.

And Cosm-aux Pas: The team of Camille and Charlie Scarborough.

Midseason form, gang. Let's see if the same will hold for the sixth month, whose challenge is:

You are a 52-year-old single woman who has an affectionate relationship with a 52-year-old single man. But what do you call him? He's not really your boyfriend, because he's not a boy. He's not really your date, because you're way past dating. You refuse to call him your significant other, because you've always hated that phrase. So he's your... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize is the same, month in and month out, whether you're 52 or 152. It's a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in Washington or close enough not to cause The Post's accountants to start throwing things.

Contest rules: You may enter as often as you like, on one piece of paper or several. Joint entries are welcome. So are entries submitted by fax (202-334-5150) or e-mail (leveyb@washpost.com). Entries must bear day and evening phone numbers, including area code(s). All entries become my property. Entries will not be accepted by phone or returned. In case of duplicate winning entries, I'll choose the one I receive first.

Please mail entries to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071. Entries for the June contest must be received by June 30.

© 2000 Bob Levey (leveyb@washpost.com).
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.


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