Week 527 : Rite of First Defusal


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Copyright The Washington Post Company Oct 12, 2003

When realizing that your fly has been open for some time.

To the doctor, during a prostate or OB/GYN exam.

To the boss, when he catches you visiting adult Web sites.

After rear-ending someone at a stoplight.

After committing a social error in a crowded elevator.

This week's contest, which was suggested by Stephen Dudzik of Olney: Come up with witty or bizarre things to say to defuse the tension in awkward moments such as those above. You may use any of the above scenarios, or any other similarly awkward situation. First- prize winner gets a soap dish shaped like a bathtub and a pen shaped like the continental United States.

First runner-up wins the tacky but estimable Style Invitational Loser pen. Other runners-up win the coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt. Honorable mentions get the mildly sought-after Style Invitational bumper sticker.

Send your entries via fax to 202-334-4312 or by e-mail to U.S. mail entries are no longer accepted. Deadline is Monday, Oct. 20. All entries must include the week number of the contest and your name, postal address and telephone number. E-mail entries must include the week number in the subject field.

Contests will be judged on the basis of humor and originality. All entries become the property of The Washington Post. Entries may be edited for taste or content. Results will be published in four weeks. No purchase required for entry.

Employees of The Washington Post, and their immediate relatives, are not eligible for prizes. Pseudonymous entries will be disqualified. The revised title for next week's contest is by Russell Beland of Springfield.

The winner of this week's contest is Danny Bravman of Potomac.

Results from Week 523, in which we asked you to propose ways to make modern life harder than it needs to be. For some reason, this contest brought out the geeks. Many, many entries -- with no apparent sense of irony -- read like this: "Reconfigure Excel without disabling the serial ports to access sufficient RAM for most applications, then stand back and watch the mess." Also, Marc Leibert of New York reports that he knows a woman who programmed all the phones in her house to speed-dial 911: "So to dial it now," he writes, "you have to hit Memory-1-6. She doesn't understand why this is funny."

{diam}Third Runner-Up: It is no longer sufficient to clean up after your dog. By law, you must catch the offending substance before it hits the ground.

(Andrea Kelly, Brookeville)

{diam}Second Runner-Up: Replace the computer mouse with two Etch- a-Sketch knobs. (Jim Risner, Greenbelt)

{diam}First Runner-Up: Presume innocence. (John Ashcroft, Washington)

(Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)

{diam}And the winner of the "Armpit of America" T-shirt from Battle Mountain, Nev.:

Eliminate surnames, as in the old days. (Danny the Elder, son of Joseph of Great Neck)

{diam}Honorable Mentions:

Drive-on-the-left-side-of-the-road Thursday. (Russell Beland, Springfield)

Supermarkets arrange goods

alphabetically: Lettuce, lamb and Lysol are now contiguous.

(William Spencer, Exeter, N.H.)

Convert stoplights to stopspeakers. (Mark Hagenau, Derry, N.H.)

Introduce "17-29 Items" lanes at the


(Tom Kreitzberg, Silver Spring)

ATMs require a urine specimen.

(Judith Cottrill, New York)

Install speed bumps on the Beltway. (Stephen Dudzik, Olney; Bob Wallace,


Standardize the size and shape of all keys, so the only difference between them is the variation in the teeth. Also, make key rings and key chains illegal. (Paul Kocak, Syracuse, N.Y.)

Replace friendly, knowledgeable

humans with an automated voice that prompts callers to ceaselessly punch buttons until they no longer remember why they called or even have the will to live. Oh, wait . . . (Marie Harris, Elkridge)

Adapt to all appliances the "Are you sure?" message that computers demand before deleting something.

Microwave a burrito: "Are you sure?" Change the channel: "Are you sure?" (Will Cramer and Julie Thomas, Herndon)

Make "pumping" gas literal.

(Robin D. Grove, Pasadena, Md.;

Art Grinath, Takoma Park)

All pills must be suppositories.

(Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

"Lather. Rinse. Calculate the cube root of the number on the bottle's bar code. Repeat." (Michael Denyszyn, New York)

Bicycle-pedaled flush toilets.

(Dan Steinberg, Falls Church)

Diplomacy. (George W. Bush,


(Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)

The terms "Inner Loop" and "Outer Loop" are replaced by "Clockwise" and "Counter-Clockwise."

(Russell Beland, Springfield)

Sell tires only in multiples of seven.

(Joel E. Baker, Monterey, Calif.)

Mandatory fee of a nickel if you hum or whistle a copyrighted song.

(Joel E. Baker, Monterey, Calif.)

Viagra takes 2 days 4 hours to become effective. (Marc Leibert, New York)

Install toilet paper dispensers just out of reach, so you have to stand.

(Mike Fransella, Arlington)

Phone book arranged in alphabetical

order -- by first name.

(Stephen Dudzik, Olney)

Adopt California recall rules for all

government positions. If you get 500 signatures and a filing fee, you can

recall your postman.

(Kevin d'Eustachio, Linwood, N.J.)

More buttons on the TV remote.

(Russell Beland, Springfield)

HOV use now requires three humans, a dog and a family of chickens.

(C. Amor Kramer, Honolulu)

All election punch cards must be

completed in reverse; i.e., stick chad

into the holes you don't want punched. (Kevin d'Eustachio, Linwood, N.J.)

Subdivide time zones into 60 parts, observing local time to the minute.

(Danny Bravman, Potomac; Bill Spencer, Exeter, N.H.)

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