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Method to Greg's Neologistic Madness

by Bob Levey

He was methodical about brewing up his winning entry – as methodical as you have to be to find a parking space these days.

"The 'bumper' part came first," explained Greg Dobbins. He let that piece of the puzzle ferment in his head for a week.

Then he browsed through an online thesaurus to see what might strike sparks. Finally, he thought of the situation from the point of view of the pedestrian, not of the driver.

Presto – we had a winner for the June edition of our monthly neologism contest.

Here was the challenge that Greg and about 3,000 fellow word maker- uppers faced:

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...

Greg's winning entry:

Bumpursuit.

Like so many winning coinages, Greg's is a neat fusion of the two key pieces of the puzzle – the bumper and the pursuit. I started hearing bells and whistles as soon as I laid eyes on it.

Our winner lives in Arlington and works for Raytheon Corp. in Landover as a database engineer. For the last six years, he has been part of a Raytheon team that runs an Earth-observing system under contract to NASA. No word on whether the system can spot vacant parking spaces from way up in the sky.

Greg was born in Cleveland. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois and has worked in the world of science ever since – in Chicago, Oregon and Florida and during two hitches in the Washington area. He chose Vidalia for his victory lunch and pronounced his shrimp and grits, followed by pecan pie, excellent.

Which is the same word I would choose to describe "bumpursuit." Congratulations to a deserving winner.

Almosts and Nearlies for June were:

Inchurance: Leah Comerford and (with a similar form) former champ Marlene B. Cohen, of Columbia.

Autobond: Laura S. Baker, of Jefferson, Md.

Tail-Chi: Christena Hambrick and former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg.

Anticispaceion: Gloria Jackson, of Vienna, Suzie Braunstein, Anne Gallmetzer and Laura Doster.

Mall Crawl: Jack Ingley, Sidney Secular, of Silver Spring, Matt Tietze, of Rockville, Karen Floyd, of Clifton, Amber Knox, of Alexandria, the team of Don and Tara Budowsky, of Alexandria, Neel Lassetter and MaryBeth Powers, of Alexandria.

Snail-gating: Michael Simpson first, then 14 more.

Stalkcar Race (and similar forms): Kim Williams, of Woodbridge, Caryn Ginsberg, of Arlington, Idalia Sanchez, of Silver Spring, Jim Hingst and Jo Ann Egypt.

Crawl Space: Former champ Scott Burroughs, of Wake Forest, N.C.

Stalk-and-Go Driving: Former champ Jennifer Lutz.

Park-space-cacity: Sally Stokes, of Silver Spring.

Creeportunism: Elizabeth Marancik.

Park de Deux: Stephanie O'Grady.

Vulching: Rene P.S. Bane.

Mallingering: Betty Edge and Tom Witte again.

Thightailing: Charles Bennett.

Spothawking: Former champ Jim Doss.

Demouvement: Multiple former champ Susan Eaton, of Taos, N.M.

Anticiparktion: The team of Mark and Cindy Ross, of Fairfax, and Susan Oetjen.

Walkie-Stalkie: Alison Hoffman.

Sedan Tarry Position: Former champ Jim Munnis, of Downingtown, Pa.

Crawl Waiting: Bill Mohan, of Kensington, and Marjorie Siegel.

Space Plodyssey: Former champ Joe Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa.

And Desperauto: Elizabeth J. Gittrich.

Thanks, gang. You have made American parking lots better places. Let's see if you can do the same to American telemarketing. Here's the July challenge:

The phone rings (during the middle of dinner, as usual). Surprise, surprise, it's a telemarketer. He has been instructed to be polite to you, so he begins by asking how you're doing this fine evening. The patently insincere tone of voice he uses to ask this question is called... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize is worth a whole lot more than a telemarketing call. It's a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sensibly near Washington. Levey promises that the phone will not ring during the meal.

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 July contest must be received by July 27 (please note this earlier-than-usual deadline).

© 2001 Bob Levey (leveyb@washpost.com).
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.


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