Enjoy a biweekly test of verbal tomfoolery. WWW fame is at stake!
Confused? Read all about Word Games in this brief introduction. Brought to you by Emily Cox
and Henry Rathvon, the creators of The Atlantic Puzzler.
This contest is now closed. But enjoy!
here to go directly to the winning entries.)
Question: Might CoxRathvon get tempted to taste
intoxicating concoctions? Might they get tight? Retort: Negative! Not within
ten thousand centuries! They don't touch the stuff. Inebriated? Not this
The 30 words above may or may not reflect the absolute truth about your dear
word-game hosts. We ask you to note, however, that every word in our message
contains at least one "T." And by our count, we have a sum of 35 "T"s. This
is significant, as we are playing a tee-totaling game.
To play along, write us a message (blurb, epigram, story, poem, what-have-you)
of 30 words or fewer, on the topic of alcohol's evils. Every word in your
message must contain at least one "T" -- and the more "T"s, the better! Please
count up your "T"s and include the total for us along with your entry.
Now, we will not judge entries solely on the basis of their "T" totals.
Maximizing your "T" count is good, but we will also judge for clarity,
eloquence, humor, narrative originality, plot and character development, and
other literary virtues. A winning entry, in short, is likely to have both a
high "T" count and a distinctive tone.
We have some special prizes for you this time, too. To encourage sobriety, we
will award each of our three favorite tee-totalers a Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Automatic Drip Coffeemaker.
(We consider caffeine an unequivocal good, you see.)
Mail your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multiple entries are okay, but for our convenience put your entries into one
piece of e-mail whenever possible (and please don't use attached files).
"T Totaling" will remain open through Friday, February 14. Winners and full
results will be posted on Friday, February 21.
The Atlantic throws the party,
Tipplers not invited.
With witty repartee,
The host's most delighted.
So wrote email@example.com, who expressed that lovely thought in 15
words using the letter T a sum of 17 times. The object of our mad T party, of
course, was to express a teetotaling outlook while amassing as many Ts as
gracefully possible. This led to lots of titillating, tittering, and tottering
from people named Timothy, Tuttle, and Tettleton. We had to say "tut-tut" to
those who resorted to stuttering to run up the T total, as by having someone
say "Th-th-th-th-th-that's right!" Although an ambitious entry from
firstname.lastname@example.org (see below) did include a bit of stuttering, it was still
the runaway leader for legitimately amassed Ts, with a total of 82 (with the
stutter, 86). Three other contestants managed a total of 60.
But before we get to those entries, let us cite two dissenting contestants who
felt that alcohol's effects should be trumpeted rather than trashed. As you'll
see, the one from email@example.com is as archly ironic as Antony's elegy for
Caesar, as it purports to censure booze but ends up saluting it! The two
Methinks the gamesters doth protest too strongly. Let's not reject the tasty
malt treat, whilst substituting the caffeinated pellet product, lest thy taste
abate too precipitately to test victuals altogether.
(38 Ts) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
'Tis triply terrible to tipple. Tippling: First--lubricates the thinking;
Next--alleviates twinges, ailments, etc.; Third--tempts conduct tending toward
nonmarital trysting, thus creating detestable amusement. Let's get sotted!
Honorable mention also goes to the one contestant who put a golfing spin on the
"AT&T tee time!" the TV shouts.
The amateurs putt timidly,
Whilst the touring celebrities
Try the most difficult shots.
In choosing three list-toppers from among the many terrific entries, we tended
to favor ones with relatively high T totals; and among these we were ultimately
most tickled and touched by the output of email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com. Our stentorian,
thundering ovation for these sterling champs! Other top favorites are listed in
Teeter-tottering, Tettleton two-fisted the Totts.
"T-T-Tettleton," Antoinette stuttered, "that's t-t-tasteless."
"Tettleton shattered that statuette," Pettitte prattled. "That two-bit
bottlehound better get treatment."
Tettleton trotted out, tittering at Pettitte's tattletale statement.
The Constitution's twenty-first amendment regrettably reinstated society's
right to temptation that the eighteenth (admittedly tantamount to
totalitarianism) terminated. Resultantly, Betty's multistate detoxification
institutions attract intoxicated athletes attempting to straighten out.
Attempting interstate travel, twenty intoxicated Hottentot tourists vacationing
together totaled their transportation, hitting another trailer containing
multitalented, titillating prostitutes, thus attesting that juxtaposing sots
with strumpets invites catastrophic international tragedy.
And Our Other Top Favorites
Throughout thirtieth birthday party, tequila stultifies Timothy Tuttle,
transubstantiating Timothy into tottering tatterdemalion. Constable stops
Tuttle. Timothy, stuttering with attenuated thought, threatens constable with
trinitrotoluene. Tuttle expeditiously eradicated, departs intestate.
TIMOTHY TITUS TUTTLE
"To Timothy Titus Tuttle
Twenty toasts," ritualistic,
Vitality, longevity ...,"
Little later that night
Tuttle's Corvette went totally ballistic.
"Timothy Titus Tuttle--latest statistic."
Anti-tippling pretexts: bitter taste, belittling treatment, jitters, fantastic
hallucinations, cirrhotic deterioration, constant potty visitations,
intransigent thirst, battles with addiction, intermittent disorientation,
teeth-gritting withdrawals, lost restraint. "It threatens utter destitution",
Instruction: Attempt bottle throttle.
Statement: Attention! Don't tempt fate. Abstain!
Interpretation: To trip light fantastic, try toasting without intoxicants,
cultivating attention to sobriety.
Result: Intermittent thought clarity, tantamount to enlightenment.
Betty Talbott tiptoed to Tuttle's Trattoria, contemplating scattered
threatening thoughts. Altogether Betty's intake totaled twenty-two bottles.
After Betty toppled to the tile, toes twitching, Timothy Tuttle tactfully toted
Teetotalers, unite! Don't teeter-totter! It's nitty gritty time! Throttle
bottled intoxicants! They transmit tattletale DT's, tear intestines; intellect
deteriorates, ditto judgment. Set terra-cotta teakettle thermostats to heat
afternoon tea instead.
Temperance treatise attracts tittering sycophants: "To treat tempestuous
thirst, don't turn tipsy. Resist Manhattan, Martini, Margarita. Time-tattered
cocktails, thought titillating, taste tart. Take trouble to turn tail with
Tatiana Tuttletaub, the titillating, thirty-something thrice-mated turtle
devotee, trying to capture the Top Tipplers Trophy, tossed thirteen triple
tequila shooters. Too late to repent, terrible tragedy interrupted attempt.
Teetotaler's Typewritten Testimonial:
Fermented intoxicants inebriate idiots. Distilled spirits disrupt thought.
Potable libatious potions pollute the torso. Resultant effects: tight, stoned,
tanked, blotto, stinko, plastered. Substitute bottled water... it tastes great!
Nineteenth century's Mistress Nation
Lectured against intoxication;
With hatchet shattered tables, bottles;
Customers tasting libations throttled,
Communicating society's trepidation
Against intoxicating immoderation.
Ancient history, times protracted--
Twentieth century's sensitivity enacted.
Those contemplating intemperate Scotch consumption must admit these truths:
Extremities turn to spaghetti, the tongue twists, intellect evaporates,
respectability settles to the bottom, yet the appetite continues to attract
Pretty little Patty Tuttle tattled to the teacher about Timothy Stanton's
antics. The sweet little thing stated that Timothy told them three naughty
tales, mostly about tiny tots tippling.
Constructive criticism? Toss that nasty bottle, get status without it!
Totalitarian states tolerate besottedness, but not these United States.
Eliminate spiritual impotence, don't pitch tantrums, listen to the
Prostrate not at the Malt Altar! Tippling titillating distillations leadeth
thee to dimwitted tittering, to tomfoolery, to unnatural nighttime gluttony;
but at worst, it tempteth fatal battles.
What the besotted students that got stewed at the watering spots told others:
Twenty-two tawdry topers diverted their attention to take their wallets. What
tripe! They're totally untrustworthy, unrepentant guttersnipes.
TITLE: TOTAL TEETOTALITY
"Touch not the bottle!" teacher taught the tot.
"Nasty its taste, its toll internal rot.
Attempt Tequila not; taboo Tokay.
They titillate, but sabotage true thought."
Timothy Tittlemouse tippled, constantly tasting intoxicating libations.
Returning past midnight after wanton celebration, Timmy tottered into Theodore
Katz's waiting mouth. "Marinated Tittlemouse tickles the palate," gourmet Katz
admitted with delight.
Collegiate partying litany: totally trashed, completely wasted, blitzed,
toasted, tanked. Then, the outcome: street spaghetti (took liberties there!),
tossed pastries (ditto), toilet telephoning (...not). Verdict:
reverse-peristaltic "t" statements quite restricted.
The tyrant tankard turns theologians to stuttering, tormented tatterdemalions:
Today they tipple, tomorrow the tomb. To think that thirst took them to
that--this toper's tempted to try tea!
Tut, tut! Tommy the Hottentot toper totted the tab. Two tens! Tammy took two
twenties, left the tavern, turned to stomp to town, hit the truck, tumbled into
the water. Ta, ta!
Attempting to author scintillating T Totaling entries, this contestant ingested
two margaritas. The result? Nothing creative emanated. The explanation?
Libations rotted mental artistry, turning potential creativity to virtually
flatline nothingness... Abstain!
Inebriation, the fantasy: ecstatically tiptoeing through the forest,
breathlessly testing the tease, the taste, the bouquet, the intense tingling,
the enticing intoxication. The truth: distracted thoughts, forgotten lifetimes,
The banquette started twirling counterclockwise. Antoinette wanted to depart,
but the escort wasn't within sight. The bathroom, Antoinette thought: That's
the spot! Unfortunately, supporting weight with unsteady feet wasn't
Ottawan firstname.lastname@example.org imparts this chestnut representing through proximity
Mistress Nation, Leavenworth's hatchet-toting Temperance instigator: "Adopt
abstinence! Don't ingest distilled intoxicants!" Though, relating to
imbibition, toddm reports "taking the fifth."
Trooping the streets,
Bitter weather, pelting sleets.
Twenty thousand hoisted this motto to those beneath:
"Mouth parts that touch intoxicants mustn't get through these teeth."
Tea, tisane, hot chocolate,
Just taste these titillating treats!
Cut the temptation, stamp out
The Comfort, the Southern, the 'Rita
Then transform to total tee,
The tower that doesn't teeter!
Tactless teetotalers tortuously try to deter temperate tipplers that take
delightful, tasty intoxicants--to wit, Scotch, Tequila, Absinthe, Stout,
Manhattans, Martinis, et cetera. These tactics haven't taken root too often.
Fermentation destroys important foodstuffs; resultant wastage creates
starvation within nonagricultural societies; street protests erupt; dictators
get frantic; Clinton intervenes, prompting unprecedented popularity; term
limits contested; Strom Thurmond elected twenty times!
Don't eat fruitcake. Fruitcake contains distilled spirits; spirits promote
intoxication. Pathetic sight: Vagrant getting tight eating fruitcake!
Intemperate gluttony transforms dissolute transient into contemptible
stumblebum. Eliminate fruitcake to mitigate inebriation.
There's littler difficulty stating,
"Tippling twenty tasty toddies"
Ten times fast
Without spitting those dentals at the least,
Than to tipple those exact tasty toddies
Without emitting out yesterday's feast.
Pathetic, titillating Letitia
Tottered tardy to the cocktail party;
Tasted two cocktails, tippled three.
Talked... talked... talked incessantly.
The hostess took Letitia outside;
Told Letitia to take the hint: "Quit."
Sobriety test--Utter this sentence: "Twas the thistle that wetted the whistle,
the epistle that whetted the mistletoe." (The sisters twisted the translation,
whilst the priests intoned "Pater Noster.")
To associates recently transferred to this department: Frequent intoxication
after management meetings isn't acceptable practice. Attempts to thwart this
regulation won't facilitate promotions, etc., but might accelerate resignation
The indigent tramp might tipple, but bottles don't comfort Connecticut's
finest. Don't tolerate tequila--not the smoothest Scotch. Just take that
teapot, steep Constant Comment, titillate those tastebuds!
'Tis totally outrageous to think that decent citizens, with true piety, might
tarnish their characters with stimulating martinis. 'Tis important not to
undertake tortuous acts antagonistic to the temperate intellect.
Totally tipsy, the gentleman still recollected not entering solitarily to visit
the tavern, thereupon returning to collect the recent date.
"Drat," quoth the gent.
Retorted the erstwhile date, "Scat! Thou dost too frequently tilt thy stein."
Tim tasted the tantalizing mist, breathing its tempting droplets through
betraying nostrils, thrilling at the imminent mutiny that the tongue tingled
into the spirit, anticipating still the trembling, tattered tomorrows.
"TASTE THE GUSTO"
Attended the little party.
Acted slightly nuts.
Vomited out the guts.
Tottered toppling comatose--
Out went the light.
Top kept throbbing
Till the next night.
With citrus twist
Starting to list.
To next tavern
But hit Saturn.
Attains neat welt;
Forgot seat belt.
Infatuated with Amaretto? Wanting Stout? Guests shouldn't get tanked with
Tanqueray, too tipsy. They mustn't let inebriation take center stage. Without
their faculties; they can't function. Don't get totally blotto.
Tosspots turn cirrhotic
Eleventh Commandment: sobriety
Mentality mandates teetotaling
Experiment not with libations
Rotgut destroys aspirations
Nostradamus denigrated intoxication
Chianti, tequila: toxins
Elegant sophisticates practice temperance
Tess Tosteron tarried till two at the tavern. Though others credit tattlin',
Tess sticks to truth-tellin'; 'Twas tequila that tempted Tess with two-timing
Ted at two-thirty.
Prevalent intoxication transforms the nation into blithering idiots. Try
tasting tangerines, fruity concoctions without the intoxicant, instead. They
bestow vitality without the deprivation to the intellect. Longevity to the
Though the advertisement's beautiful throng
Bibulate bottles with stout, it
Won't depict fat sots uncouth.
Though skeptics still doubt it,
The executives still tout it:
"The industry won't target youth."
"Tequila, gratis!" the bartender chortles, totaling receipts. "Tequila turkey,
shoot between the feathers!" Tom spouts cotton-mouthed. "Tequila entire bottle,
cactus, cactus, cactus!" Pete stutters whilst customers desert the tavern.
Belted trunks atop, great-coated travelers within, the stage twisted towards
the mountain top. "To the left! Left!" the sleet-pelted steersman told the
steeds, then emptied the tequila bottle. "The right!"
Trying to tipple without toppling, that's the trick! Truly, 'tis better to
withstand the temptation to tope than to trip teeteringly through the tulips at
They partook the sacramental distillate,
Felt the spirits hot,
Then genuflected at their deity Tequila's
Great white altar pot.
They thought to testify the ecstasy that brought,
But they forgot.
It's quite the affliction,
Frustrating teens' transportation.
'Twas but thirteen draughts
'Til Trent thought ninety fast;
But at twelve, streetside trees breathed their last.
Strait-laced Temperance University lecturer:
"Students not yet inebriated, but just slightly tipsy, must expect to forfeit
their entire eight semesters' scholastic achievement; they're terminated!
Furthermore they must flagellate themselves repeatedly."
Matilda Tuttersworth taught temperance
To those that listened attentively
Tuesday, Thursday promptly at eight
Turnout though limited
Didn't stop Tilly's bigoted
Dissertation against insobriety's fate
Fraternity nights still resonate: stereo thumping, brothers hoisting pitchers
whilst tossing quarters, security stopping the tap. "It's Tuesday!" the
brotherhood protested. "Truly worthy night to party!" Security felt
'Tis most intelligent to let others tilt their tankards late, whilst thou, at
eventide, dost thoughtfully interpret the Two Cities' Tale until somnolent
tranquility dost tenderly overtake thee.
*Cautionary (not Canterbury) Tale*
Teetering, tottering, Thomas the poet
Went staggering tavernward. Terrible sight!
Wasn't the tipsy, tight gentleman prescient, though!
(Went not ungentle into that goodnight).
To tell the truth, today might fit this description: the last chapter.
Therefore, isn't it fitting to celebrate it with sobriety, with the
understanding that water inebriates not?
Tottering teens think Tequila's terrific til the tempest they've taken turns
tail to their tender tummies tossing their total take through their throats to
The coveted national title at stake, the terrified trombonist tentatively took
center stage. The tune: "Misty." Lotta (arrantly tipsy) belted "The Alphabet
Try tiptoeing toward teetotaling. It's the latest innovation to broadcast
sobriety. Truly it's the most interesting concept toward true sobriety this
century. Try it!
Tippled asti spumante,
Cabernet, spritzers, vermouth,
Motored the interstate--
Noticed the truck too late--
Teetotaler at last... that's the truth.
Tired tippling ecdysiast tastes margarita, strips, then tosses garments toward
unenthusiastic customers, threatening to throw pasties with g-string at staring
Shirts wet with froth, frat brothers throw toga party. Uncouth acts with dates
prompt faculty to throw out miscreants, tossing them into the draft.
Topers stoned with bottled Scotch
Must their errant footsteps watch,
Lest, staggering into the street,
Their shortened obits they complete.
Gimlet, toddy, intoxicating libation
Inviting constabulary indignation
Temperance the latchkey to salvation
Direct the spirit not to temptation
To tell the truth, Tatiana, it's terribly difficult to maintain true sobriety.
There're distractions just too seductive to discount.
Let's lift the toast
To total sobriety;
'Tis titillating, but tiring,
Too tipsy to stay.
Toast: To the abstainers with the strainers steeping tea - they don't twitch,
don't tic, don't get DT's.
This writer's most content with hot chocolate, thinks getting tanked
Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.