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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!
(Click 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 virtuous twosome!

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 puzzles@theatlantic.com. 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.

Sobriety's apologists,


T-Totaling Results

The Atlantic throws the party,
Tipplers not invited.
With witty repartee,
The host's most delighted.

So wrote paypete1st@worldnet.att.net, 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 guvnuh@earthlink.net (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 denicho@ibm.net is as archly ironic as Antony's elegy for Caesar, as it purports to censure booze but ends up saluting it! The two dissenters:

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) (dpmcewan@erols.com)

'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!
(33) (denicho@ibm.net)

Honorable mention also goes to the one contestant who put a golfing spin on the "tee" theme:

"AT&T tee time!" the TV shouts.
The amateurs putt timidly,
Whilst the touring celebrities
Try the most difficult shots.
(21) (paypete1st@worldnet.att.net)

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 guvnuh@earthlink.net, djwixted@facstaff.wisc.edu, and tcarr@ed.atl.sita.int. Our stentorian, thundering ovation for these sterling champs! Other top favorites are listed in T-total order.

The Winners

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.

(86) (guvnuh@earthlink.net)
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.
(60) (djwixted@facstaff.wisc.edu)
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.
(57) (tcarr@ed.atl.sita.int)

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.
(60) (LeonardJK@aol.com)

"To Timothy Titus Tuttle
Twenty toasts," ritualistic,
Vitality, longevity ...,"
Etcetera optimistic.
Little later that night
Tuttle's Corvette went totally ballistic.
Tuttle's tombstone:
"Timothy Titus Tuttle--latest statistic."
(60) (smbush@dcaccess.com)

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", etc.
(58) (flin_flon_students@mb.sympatico.ca)

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.
(57) (feta@sprynet.com)

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 Betty out.
(56) (mwweneta@erols.com)

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.
(55) (GARROBMIL@aol.com)

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 gratitude!"
(47) (Softalker@aol.com)

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. Interment Thursday.
(45) (N5VCX@worldnet.att.net)

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!
(45) (GARROBMIL@aol.com)

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.
(44) (bonniet@ormutual.com)

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 disaster.
(43) (ShedPot@aol.com)

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.
(43) (Mypoet@aol.com)

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 tee-totalers!
(43) (hoglund@whitman.edu)

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.
(43) (Mary_Cresse@zd.com)

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.
(42) (davids@therock.mcg.edu)

"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."
(42) (pmgrant@vaxxine.com)

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.
(41) (bonniet@ormutual.com)

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.
(40) (nbr@aretha.jax.org)

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!
(40) (agnes@interpath.com)

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!
(40) (bruhlen@grasshopper.grasshoppernet.com)

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!
(40) (rickp@ormutual.com)

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, unsettled generations.
(40) (feta@sprynet.com)

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 realistic.
(39) (nbr@aretha.jax.org)

Ottawan toddm@ott.net 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."
(39) (toddm@ott.net)

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."
(39) (jpg@LOYOLA.EDU)

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!
(39) (dweinst@onewave.com)

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.
(39) (LWLevit@aol.com)

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!
(39) (flin_flon_students@mb.sympatico.ca)

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.
(39) (woontner@comteck.com)

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.
(39) (smbush@dcaccess.com)

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."
(39) (bbarry@az.com)

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.")
(39) (paypete1st@worldnet.att.net)

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 acceptance.
(38) (Robmur@aol.com)

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!
(38) (hoglund@whitman.edu)

'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.
(38) (ttaylor@elite.net)

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."
(37) (KayBTucker@aol.com)

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.
(37) (Timothy_J_Gaul_at_~PGRLVD3P@ccmail.bms.com)

Attended the little party.
Acted slightly nuts.
Twittered idiotically.
Vomited out the guts.
Tottered toppling comatose--
Out went the light.
Top kept throbbing
Till the next night.
(37) (smbush@dcaccess.com)

Two martinis
With citrus twist
Three Manhattans...
Starting to list.

Take Toyota
To next tavern
Negotiate turn
But hit Saturn.

Other motorist
Attains neat welt;
Tippler "exits"--
Forgot seat belt.
(37) (djwixted@facstaff.wisc.edu)

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.
(37) (stevea@mindspring.com)

Tosspots turn cirrhotic
Eleventh Commandment: sobriety
Mentality mandates teetotaling
Practice virtue
Experiment not with libations
Rotgut destroys aspirations
Abstain fervently
Nostradamus denigrated intoxication
Chianti, tequila: toxins
Elegant sophisticates practice temperance
(37) (rickp@ormutual.com)

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.
(36) (mrudis@goshen.net)

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 fruit!
(36) (ttaylor@elite.net)

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."
(35) (smbush@dcaccess.com)

"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.
(35) (paypete1st@worldnet.att.net)

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!"
(34) (Liz533@aol.com)

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 nightfall, insensate.
(34) (KayBTucker@aol.com)

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.
(34) (smbush@dcaccess.com)

Bottle addiction--
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.
(34) (cfoltz@netscape.com)

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."
(33) (ShedPot@aol.com)

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
(33) (bonniet@ormutual.com)

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 differently. Typical.
(32) (nbr@aretha.jax.org)

'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.
(32) (KayBTucker@aol.com)

*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).
(32) (Ingbobl@aol.com)

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?
(31) (KayBTucker@aol.com)

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 turf.
(31) (FatherAl@concentric.net)

The coveted national title at stake, the terrified trombonist tentatively took center stage. The tune: "Misty." Lotta (arrantly tipsy) belted "The Alphabet Theme" instead.
(29) (brudis@goshen.net)

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!
(29) (Mypoet@aol.com)

Tippled asti spumante,
Claret, chianti,
Cabernet, spritzers, vermouth,
Motored the interstate--
Noticed the truck too late--
Teetotaler at last... that's the truth.
(28) (jaye3@sunlink.net)

Tired tippling ecdysiast tastes margarita, strips, then tosses garments toward unenthusiastic customers, threatening to throw pasties with g-string at staring front-seat pervert.
(26) (paypete1st@worldnet.att.net)

Shirts wet with froth, frat brothers throw toga party. Uncouth acts with dates prompt faculty to throw out miscreants, tossing them into the draft.
(24) (paypete1st@worldnet.att.net)

Topers stoned with bottled Scotch
Must their errant footsteps watch,
Lest, staggering into the street,
Their shortened obits they complete.
(23) (Munquesabi@aol.com)

Gimlet, toddy, intoxicating libation
Inviting constabulary indignation
Temperance the latchkey to salvation
Direct the spirit not to temptation
(23) (bonniet@ormutual.com)

To tell the truth, Tatiana, it's terribly difficult to maintain true sobriety. There're distractions just too seductive to discount.
(22) (Mypoet@aol.com)

Let's lift the toast
To total sobriety;
'Tis titillating, but tiring,
Too tipsy to stay.
(19) (KayBTucker@aol.com)

Toast: To the abstainers with the strainers steeping tea - they don't twitch, don't tic, don't get DT's.
(19) (paypete1st@worldnet.att.net)

This writer's most content with hot chocolate, thinks getting tanked distasteful.
(14) (flin_flon_students@mb.sympatico.ca)

Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.