For some reason, word fugitives about all sorts of things tend to elicit plays on déjà vu. This one was déjà vu all over again: several readers suggested déjà rue or déjà fou; Bill Parton, of Russellville, Arkansas, offered déjàphooey; and yet other readers proposed déjà expressions too impolite to print. A number of Simpsons fans also wrote in, invoking Homer's deathless D'oh! and variants thereof. A few readers blended the two concepts. For instance, Matt Breaden, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, wrote, "I am a longtime fan of The Simpsons, and so the moment before doing something stupid I often feel a profound sense of déjà d'oh."
Suggestions that lack any particular cultural referents include pregret, submitted by many readers; dunderstruck, by Jon Miller, of New Haven, Connecticut; slipupiphany, by Kenneth Tishgart, of Ross, California; and, particularly to describe "a social blunder," time-lapse faux pas-graphy, by Paul Liversage, of Fargo, North Dakota.
All well and good, but Tim Sargent, of Keams Canyon, Arizona, takes top honors. He wrote, "An all-encompassing term for these moments of stopeless hupidity might be instant regretification."
Another reader, Roger Wilson, requested help in wording a personal ad; he was looking for a "flattering" word to describe a female shape between "slender" and "full-figured." This elicited a bit of feminist commentary. Denise Mathew, of Charlottesville, Virginia, wrote, "I was sad to see that you printed Roger Wilson's awful query. Please tell him to try using the word Barbie." Most women who responded, however, took no offense. For instance, Anne Quigg, of Malden, Massachusetts, wrote, "My entry is Our Bodies, Our 12s." And Sharon Urquhart, of Graton, California, wrote, "The woman he seeks is a femme mid-all. Thanks for amusing me!"
The most popular coinages, submitted by members of both sexes, were belle-curved and mediyum or mediyummy. And here's a nice try that, alas, probably wouldn't get the point across: Jim Richards, of Rexburg, Idaho, suggested nonplussed.
It is impossible to deny David Olivett, of Emporium, Pennsylvania, top honors. He sent in a poem, explaining, "I could not think of a one-word adjective to aid Roger Wilson in his plight. However, he is free to use this bit of doggerel: 'While the violin is small and sleek, / And the double bass broad and mellow, / The one true love that I do seek / Should mostly resemble a cello.'"
Now Luella Schmidt, of Madison, Wisconsin, writes, "My husband and I have been searching for a term to describe the burned bit of skin on the roof of your mouth that you get when you fail to let your slice of pizza cool adequately."
And Jane Evans, of Kingston, Washington, writes, "What is the word for the reflection of moonlight on water and the way it follows you exactly as you are walking down the beach or a dock?"