For many years, "New York Magazine" ran a series of writing competitions which always appeared on the last page. Readers were given a premise, and the entrants had to develop a one to three line piece or short paragraph to satisfy the description. I entered often and always hoped to win. I look back now, and although many of my "Honorable Mentions" now seem corny and dated, they still make me smile. Here are a few of my entries that won and were published in the magazine. I am going to retype as many as my lazy fingers this afternoon will allow.
" Results of Competiton 746, in which you were asked for Epitaphs."
HERE LIES MICHAEL OVITZ
Perpetual Care by I.M. Pei
"Results of Competition 749, in which you were asked for the opening sentence of a tell-all book."
Last night I dreamt I went to Brooklyn again, where the Brobdingnagian man who today holds court from a corner table at Spago was known simply as "little putz."
"Results of Competiton 816, in which you were asked for the opening lines of a badly written best-seller."
Desiree sat in Judge Paul Tyler's courtroom wearing Armani and a smirk. "So he denied me bail," she thought. "It wasn't so long ago that I was denied nothing." She caught a familiar whiff of Dolce and Gabbana and remembered the hazy evening on Royal Street in the Quarter. "The evidence will show..." droned the prosecutor.
"Results of Competition 862, in which you were asked to win the Eastern Division of the American league, or failing that, to provide a few aromatic lines from a Book About Hollywood."
"And the Oscar goes to... Marlene Bartlett for "Raining in New York." Dr. Lucas Braxton watched as Marlene, radiant, stepped up to the podium. Who would accept, he wondered... Darlene? Charlene? ... or Jim?
"Results of Competition 890, in which you were asked to invent a three-line, two person conversation."
A. I've been told I have no empathy.
B. Well, today my therapist diagnosed me with serious borderline personality disorder.
A. Who cares?
"Results of Competiton 905, in which you were asked for three versions of a random sentence."
The apparition danced before her eyes, then vanished into the dark mirror.
She glanced into the mirror and saw a man looking over her shoulder.
"Results of Competition 852, in which you were asked to describe creative playthings."
THE COMPETITION EDITOR DOLL-- when it winds up, it says, "Hoping you the same."
That last entry paid homage to the editor of the competitions, Mary Ann Madden. She always ended her Competition report with that sign-off. Some readers complained that the same group of writers won every week, but new names popped up frequently and joined the club.
OK, my fingers need to be bathed in epsom salts.