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May I have a word: And they danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon

Readers respond in a big way to a limerick challenge.

Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly, stars of the 1954 film "Brigadoon."Wikimedia Commons

The challenge last time was to write the final three lines of a limerick whose first two lines were:

They stumbled upon Brigadoon

On a beautiful spring afternoon.

This must have been an easy task for ye, because it was a hard one for me: I simply couldn’t choose one reader to whom to award bragging rights. Hereby and herewith, I award those rights to versifiers in each of eight categories.

Best match with the musical’s storyline

Stephen Mulloney, of West Roxbury, came up with:

In the short time allotted / Tommy got so besotted / He’s not leaving there any time soon!


Best job of bringing the story into the 21st century

There were a lot of strong contenders in this category. I’m naming Weston’s Joel Angiolillo, Quincy’s Michael Czitrom, and Acton’s Larry C. Kerpelman co-winners.

Here’s Joel’s contribution:

They cried as a pair, / “This scene we will share!” / And so soon Brigadoon was on Zoom.

And Michael’s:

Finding the movie annoying / And the songs to be cloying, / Switched to Netflix to watch “Paper Moon.”

And Larry’s:

But their timing was wrong, / For they couldn’t stay long, / ’Cause their Uber arrived all too soon.

Best rhyme in the last line

Rob Kahn, of Danvers, takes this category.

She trilled on the flute / While he opened the boot / And assembled his contrabassoon.

Most creative and consequential use of punctuation

The silent modification in Hudson resident Margery Goldstein’s first line strikes me as inspired, and therefore I’m including all five lines:

They stumbled upon “Brigadoon” / On a beautiful spring afternoon / But they were so tipsy / They thought it was “Gypsy,” / And kept calling out for June.

Best local reference

This one’s a tie between John Lane, of Falmouth, for:


The Celts came to play / They lit up the parquet / And set the Garden abloom!

and Norm Quesnel, of Framingham, for:

Not just for one day. / No, we chose to stay. / But we’ll never forget, uh, Bostoon?

Best nod to limerick tradition

Edith Maxwell, of Amesbury, offered:

Where a girl from Nantucket / Sat down on a bucket / And said, “Will you sing us a tune?”

Best use of borrowed material

Bill Ossmann, of Acton, wrote: “Your proposed limerick fits beautifully with lines from ‘The Owl and the Pussycat.’”

They dined upon mince, / And slices of quince, / Which they ate with a runcible spoon.

Best use of material borrowed from my column

Michael Biales, of Acton, went meta on me.

But one soon said in fear, / “They don’t serve quahogs here. / Let’s skedaddle and do it quite soon.”

Well done, everyone!

On to our next challenge. This column started out by asking you to coin words to help other readers who felt a need for them. Perhaps you too have a meaning in search of a word? Please do send it along. The “May I Have a Word” community would love to craft a new word just for you.

In the meantime, can you help Hatsy Shields, of Hamilton? When you’re talking with other people about the virtues and downsides of chatbots or social media apps or comparing new TVs, what are you doing? She is looking for a word, “parallel to gossiping, for having social conversations about technological things.”


Please send me your coinages by noon on the Friday before April Fool’s Day, at Barbara.Wallraff@globe.com, and kindly include where you live.

Barbara Wallraff is a writer and editor who lives in Cambridge.