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Once a Columnist, Now a Neologism Champ

by Bob Levey

As soon as it came to her, Jennifer Sklarew thought her entry was a winner. Her husband, Dann, did, too. But it took a vote from Levey to seal Jennifer's success. She reigns as the queen of our January neologism contest.

Like about 3,000 fellow make-up-a-word contest fans, Jennifer took aim at the January challenge. It was:

You attend a social event, for couples, on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone is on his best behavior. But then some genius (male, of course) finds a TV set and flicks to the Redskins game. The men at the party try not to weaken. But they keep sneaking glances at the screen. These flicks of the eye are called...

Jennifer's winning coinage:

ESPN-age.

What a terrific play on "espionage" (using the call letters of the famous sports network on cable TV). How perfectly ESPN-age captures the spying that Redskins fans are famous for. And how impressive it was that Jennifer thought this up, given that she isn't much of a sports fan and her husband isn't, either.

Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg, was right there with ESPN- age, too. But he trailed Jennifer by 10 minutes. Such are the vagaries of alarm clocks and Internet routing paths. Better luck next time, Tom.

Our winner was born in Japan and raised in Cherry Hill, N.J. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in creative writing and a minor in Japanese. She and Dann were married in 1998. They live in Arlington.

Jennifer says that taking on Dann Sklarew's last name after their marriage has given her plenty of spelling practice, at the very least. "I went from being Jennifer Friedman to being Jennifer Let-Me-Spell-My-Last-Name- For-You," she said, over a victory lunch of lamb chops with all the trimmings at I Ricchi.

Jennifer is an international trade specialist in the Office of Japan at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She worked previously as a consultant. But it's possible that a summer job was what brought her into the winner's circle.

While in graduate school at Johns Hopkins University, she worked for a Japanese-language newspaper in the city of Morioka.

She was a columnist, bless her heart.

Wrote 13 columns. Lived to tell about it.

If that line of work doesn't make you a genius, nothing will. Congratulations to Jennifer for a world-class neologism (in any language).

Almosts and Nearlies for January:

Boyeurism: Cathy Murphie, of Rockville.

Skinflicks: Debbie Yanoff first, 43 more just like hers a little later on.

Peekskin: Another popular choice. Mary E. Norton, of Bowie, was first among 44 submitters.

Redscans: Marie Bolt, of Beltsville, Clarence M. Johnson, also of Beltsville, Jim Taylor, of Alexandria, and Michael Waterman.

Retaineyetis Pigskintosa: Valerie A. Chambers, of Indian Head, Ann Claycomb and Bob Rager, of Seabrook.

Quarterback-Peek: Loren Booda, of Arlington, and Ben Franklin.

Screen Passes: Neil Shawen, of Falls Church.

Blitzpeeps: Marc LeGoff, of Northwest Washington.

Hogwiles: Nancy Ferris, of Alexandria.

Grideyin': Recent champ Jack Bailer, Nick Flokos, of McLean, Laura Baker, of Jefferson, Md., and (with similar forms) Christopher Lamora and Rob Green.

Peep-per View: Wendy Leyes, of Chevy Chase.

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

Engauchement: Robert C. Truhn II.

Teeveeations: Jan Verrey.

J-ocular-ity: Mary Hornsby.

Redsquints: The team of Don Badrak and Cathy Buffington and Paula Cohen, of Potomac.

Eyebrowse: David Goodman, of Silver Spring.

Fauxward Pas: Richard Jaffe, of North Potomac.

NFLections: Michael Rahn, of McLean.

Jock-twitch: Susan West.

Guest-tosterone: Recent champ Lynda Gattozzi, of Bethesda.

Testosteroam: Cindy Cook.

Testost-eyeroams: Karen Kenworthy.

Testosterhoning: Tor Bennett.

Panditry: Last month's champ, Sidney Secular, of Silver Spring.

Slyballing: Bill Willcox, of Northwest Washington.

Screen-ploys: Jan Verrey again.

Gamebits: Brad Cary, of Vienna.

Man-o-pause: Bob Ludwig.

Flicksation: Erin Wyld.

And Fleeflicker: Alex Fraser, then 11 more just the same.

Very nice, sports fans. Let's see if your burning neologistic talent can see you through the cold of February. Here's this month's challenge:

You throw a dinner party. When you serve the main course, three guests bite into the entree. Then all three immediately ask you for the recipe. This reflex is called... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize is a reflex itself: a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sanely near Washington.

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 to 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 February contest must be received by Feb. 28.

© 2002 Bob Levey (leveyb@washpost.com).
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.


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