Words & Stuff

aa: Love Letters

(4 January 1998)

It's been a full year since I started doing these columns.... Time flies. To accompany you into the new year, here are a couple of miscellaneous alphabetic amusements.

What comes next in the following series of names?

Partial credit for getting the initial letter right.

Wawona
Vicente
Ulloa
Taraval
Santiago
Rivera
Quintara
Pacheco
Ortega
Noriega
Moraga
Lawton
Kirkham
Judah
Irving
???????

This quiz was brought to you by the numbers 19 and 1. A certain set of people will find the puzzle trivial; most others will probably find it impossible, though many similar puzzles could be constructed for other groups of people. (I generally hate puzzles with a limited audience, but I liked this one too much to pass it up.) This is intended as advance warning so you don't spend a lot of time trying to figure it out; if you don't know the answer offhand, I recommend giving up.

I love my love...

Six months ago I mentioned a turn-taking alphabet game about going on a trip. Here's another game in the same general category (this one dating back at least to Victorian times):

One player begins by saying "I love my love with an A because she (or he) is..." and then an adjective beginning with A. The same player continues, kinda like playing Mad Libs® with words beginning with A:

"I hate her with an A because she is [adjective]. Her name is [name]. She lives in [place], and I feed her on [thing] and [thing]."

For instance, a sample from Fran and Ed:

"I love my love with an A because he is athletic. I hate him with an A because he is asthmatic. His name is Ataxerxes. He lives in Albania, and I feed him on abalone and apricots."

The next player begins "I love my love with a B," and so on through the alphabet. As Fran and Ed note, "Generally it is politic to allow 'ex' words for X as otherwise everyone will be Xerxes and live in Xanadu."

In Through the Looking Glass, Alice is introduced to the March Hare's alter ego, the White King's messenger Haigha (pronounced "so as to rhyme with 'mayor'"), and is immediately seized with the urge to play this game:

"I love my love with an H ... because he is Happy. I hate him with an H, because he is Hideous. I fed him with -- with -- with Ham-sandwiches and Hay. His name is Haigha, and he lives--"

"He lives on the Hill," the King remarked simply...

As usual, this game is best played on lazy afternoons by lazy participants, rather than competitively and with time limits.


Thanks to Fran Altvater and Ed Bernstein for reminding me of the rules.


"I love my love" reminds me of a jump-rope or ball-bouncing chant with a similar pattern:

"A, my name is Alice and my husband's name is Al; we come from Alabama and we sell aardvarks."

At some point I'll do a column about jump-rope rhymes and counting-out rhymes; if you know any particularly interesting or unusual ones, please send them my way.


Mad Libs is a registered trademark of Price Stern Sloan, Inc.


Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>