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Victory to an 'Even-Steven Kind of Guy'

by Bob Levey

When Greg Godowsky e-mailed his entry for our May neologism contest, he guessed that "about 500" others would have the same brainstorm.

Greg is a far better word maker-upper than he is a predictor. Only two other entrants submitted the same word, and both of those entries arrived well after Greg's. Thus does the May crown rest on Greg's cranium.

Like about 3,000 fellow "wordies," Greg took a crack at the May challenge, which was:

Near most cash registers these days, there's a tray containing pennies. You're supposed to take one if you need one and leave one if you get one back in change. What do you call a person who always takes a penny out but never puts one back in?

His winning entry:


That's a perfect conjunction of "Abe" (as in Lincoln, whose face is on the penny) and "absconder." Could it be said better? I didn't think so.

Neither did former champs Nancy L. Peters, of Arlington, and Dawn Kral, of Waldorf. You know the drill, ladies: faster next time, please.

Our winner is a software analyst for Financial Technologies in Chantilly. He and his wife, Kay, live in Ashburn.

Greg grew up in Falls Church and graduated from Herndon High School. After college at Radford University, where he majored in speech communications, he bounced right back to his former home turf. He has been "softwaring" ever since.

"Turf" is an appropriate word in Greg's case, because he'd "be a pro golfer tomorrow" if he knew ahead of time that he'd make a living at it. He shoots in the low to mid-80s, even though he plays only twice a month.

Greg and Kay will be celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary today in the Bahamas. But they sneaked in a victory lunch before they left, at Clyde's-Reston Town Center. There's no penny dish beside the cash register there, but Greg has often met them elsewhere.

"I try to be even," he said, over a barbecued chicken breast. "I' ll leave four [pennies] at one place and take four at the next place. I'm pretty sure I'm an even-steven kind of guy."

Also a very talented neologist. Congratulations to a very worthy winner.

Almosts and Nearlies for May were:

Centsustaker: Vast hordes. Suzanne Lewis Lucero, of La Plata, was first.

Coppertunist: Vaster hordes. Dian McDonald, of Alexandria, was first.

Pennyurious (and similar forms): Vastest hordes. Daphne Hammond, of Arlington, was first.

Self Cent-ered: Laura Baker, of Jefferson, Md., and J. Mark Harl, of Germantown.

Abeductor: Darryl Diamond and Doug Wilburn, of Fairfax.

Penny Grincher: Valerie A. Chambers, of Indian Head.

Freeloder: Albert P. Toner, of Arlington.

Penny Loafers: Former champ Cathy Smith Caviness, of Clifton, then 11 others.

Scoindrel: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg, and Zora Margolis.

Impennytent: Jan vonBushberger, of Davidsonville, Jessica A. Gray and Dave Bjornstad.

Penny-anderthal: Richard Jaffe, of North Potomac.

Abcentee: Jayne Greene.

Larcentist: Carlin Hetzler, of Ellicott City, and Amber Knox.

Mis-cent-thrope: Former champ Ruth Ruskin, of Falls Church, Bill Mohan, of Kensington, and Michele Leikach, of Huntingtown, Md.

Lincolnsiderate: Paul J. Everson, of Alexandria.

Impe-coin-ious: Catherine Langrehr.

Exitcentsalist: Wayne Rohde.

Deploribus Picayunum: Former champ Susan Eaton, of Taos, N.M.

Shellout Falter: Richard L. Eldredge, of Rockville.

Grabcentee: Former champ Joe Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa.

Cashist Pig: Jennifer Sklarew.

And a true laugh-getter, Republican: Thomas M. Johnson, of Bethesda, and the team of Marvin Throckmorton and Rod Smith.

Excellent, gang! Let's see if more excellence lurks near the June challenge. It is:

You are hunting for a parking space in a jam-packed lot. None is available. But hark! Here comes some guy on foot, his arms laden with packages. You inch along beside his right thigh until he leads you to the space he is about to vacate. This 1-mile-per-hour creeping is called a... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize is far more glorious than 1-mile-per-hour creeping. It' s a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sanely near Washington. Alas, you're on your own as far as parking is concerned.

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 ( 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 27 (please note – not the end of the month this time!).

© 2001 Bob Levey (
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.

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