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The Style Invitational

Week 282: Taking Snides
Sunday, August 9, 1998



Snide Comment:
I guess now he really can't go home again.


(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)

This week's contest was proposed by Pat Myers of Fort Washington, who wins the 'Gee Whiz-r!,' a plastic whistle that produces a piercing noise that "shatters glass, makes poodles yap uncontrollably." Your challenge is to take any story anywhere in today's Post and append to it a single snide observation. You can be reacting to a headline or the text of the story. No need to clip the story just tell us which page it is on. First-prize winner gets a hatmaker's severed human head, a value of $30.

First runner-up gets the tacky but estimable Style Invitational Loser Pen. Other runners-up receive the coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt. Honorable Mentions get the mildly sought-after Style Invitational bumper sticker. Winners will be selected on the basis of humor and originality. Mail your entries to the Style Invitational, Week 282, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071; fax them to 202-334-4312; or submit them via Internet to this address: Internet users: Please indicate the week number in the "subject" field. Also, please do not append "attachments," which tend not to be read. Entries must be received on or before Monday, Aug. 16. Important: Please include your postal address and phone number. Winners will be announced three weeks from today. Editors reserve the right to alter entries for taste, humor or appropriateness. No purchase necessary. Today's Ad No One Notices was written by Jonathan Paul of Garrett Park. Employees of The Washington Post and members of their immediate families are not eligible for prizes.

Report from Week 279,

in which you were asked to write treacly inspirational poetry. Terrific winners. As usual with poetry, there was some fairly heavyhanded editing for rhyme, meter, content, logic, humor, etc.

  • First Runner-Up:

    Yesterday upon the road I met a man with half a leg.

    He looked at me with half a smile, held out a hand to beg.

    "Good sir," said I, "half a leg is naught at which to sneer.

    Why, Holyfield became the champ with but a half an ear.

    "With merely half most any man can most anything attain,

    Look how high Dan Quayle did rise with only half a brain.

    There's no limit to the future of one who has but half.

    Having half a liver didn't mute Edith Piaf!

    "Half a loaf is all one needs to keep intact one's soul.

    See how low John Bobbitt's sunk since he was rendered whole.

    So that stump of yours, my privileged friend, is really quite a boon."

    At which he half removed his pants, and gave me half a moon.

    (Jonathan Paul, Garrett Park)

  • And the winner of the framed photograph of William Howard Taft on the back of a very beleaguered-looking horse :

    A saddened young trichina worm

    Sits in waste abuzz with with flies

    "How can I ever save the world

    Stuck here, in this?" he cries.

    But soon he got his break in life

    By way of too-rare pork

    When he entered someone's body

    On the meat upon her fork.

    Then the lass went shopping

    At her local grocery store

    She bought a nice fresh cantaloupe

    (She could afford no more.)

    Later, in her kitchen

    Her intestines made their purges.

    And as her gut was speared by pain,

    She let go her recent purchase.

    The bag landed on the counter

    Out the window flew the melon

    It fell twelve stories through the air

    And conked an escaped felon

    The woman's pain receded

    And soon she bought a Ford.

    'Cause for the nasty felon

    There was a nice reward.

    Alas, the crook had no such luck

    In fact, his time was up; he

    Breathed his last, but his kidneys

    Saved a starving orphan's puppy.

    Because the puppy didn't die

    The orphan kept his hope.

    His faith in God was strengthened

    He grew up to be the pope!

    So remember life's great lesson:

    To yourself be true.

    Whether you're a pontiff

    Or a squirmy worm in poo.

    (Niels Hoven, Silver Spring)

  • Honorable Mentions:

    The young boy found a quarter

    Outside a grocery store

    But instead of buying candy

    He gave it to the poor.

    It was sent to help a family

    That was strapped 'cause times were hell

    The father dropped it in a telephone

    And got a job that paid him well.

    For years that noble daddy scrimped

    For his daughter's college day

    And in that school she met her husband

    Who, as a boy, gave that quarter away!

    In married bliss they thrived

    And soon started a clan

    Their little girl grew up to cure cancer

    Their little boy became U.S. ambassador to Iran.

    So folks, just don't be greedy

    Share that excess quarter

    I know because this tale is true.

    I'm that noble father's daughter!

    (Jean Sorensen, Herndon)

    Do you know someone who is glum?

    Why not relieve his sadness

    With a balloon of helium?

    Do you know someone who is suffering from

    substance abuse?

    Why not take him to lunch

    And let him order anything he wants, even

    dessert of chocolate mousse?

    Do you know someone who is filled with


    Why not show up at his doorstep with a mop

    And wash his linoleum?

    (Susan Keevan, Bethesda)

    There's always one kid at the playground

    Whom nobody wants on his team.

    So this kid slumps, beat, on a lonely seat

    And nurses a shattered dream.

    There is always one pup in the pet store

    That nobody wants to take home.

    So it curls up tight in its cage at night

    And moans to itself, alone.

    There is always one poor homeless wanderer

    Who has neither family nor caring.

    Each day is the same; no one speaks his name,

    So he roams like a loose ball bearing.

    There's a place where every soul's wanted.

    In a rainbow of kindness and care.

    May his spirit soar when he sees, on the floor,

    A celestial Welcome mat there!

    (Jennifer Hart, Arlington)

    A lonely but misguided youth

    Lacking the will to live,

    Decides at last to end it all,

    With pills and booze and laxative.

    The deed is interrupted

    Fam'ly members intercede.

    They place him in professional care

    To convalesce at his own speed.

    The endless days drag on and on

    What must he do before he's freed?

    One day he finds a Reader's Digest

    And in boredom starts to read.

    First, "Laughter, the Best Medicine"

    Then "Life in These United States."

    He grins and turns the pages,

    And learns new words like "denigrates."

    Then, the month's selections:

    Tales inspiring and true.

    Folks who beat their problems.

    And emerged, remade, anew.

    The message never wavers:

    "You can do it if you try!"

    He then reads of a lonely youth. . .

    And soon he starts to cry.

    This ride called Life can have a way

    Of playing a wry jest.

    That lonely little boy is me,

    Publisher of Reader's Digest.

    (Greg Arnold, Herndon)

    Next Week: Expressing It Nicely

    Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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