As a man who is known far and wide (not to mention near and narrow, so let’s not mention it) for his skill at losing contests, I have never been asked for my expert advice on how to win a contest. But I am going to tell you anyhow.


            The first thing you have to do is enter. This is not easier said than done because you are required to know your name, and depending on whether you are in the federal witness protection program or it is Saturday night, or both, it can present quite a challenge.


            Sure, you could ask someone else, but that would require you to know the other person’s name, in which case you might say, “Bob, what’s my name?”


            That would require Bob to reply, “My name is Gertrude.”


            There is nothing left for you to do at this point but look at your driver’s license. This presents another challenge if you don’t drive. I would venture to say (and will in a moment) that nobody who doesn’t drive has ever won a contest.


            Designated drivers, on the other hand, usually have great luck in contests, but that is neither here nor there. And neither are you.


            To make this easier (or, if you insist, more difficult), here are 10 steps you can take. Watch that top one or you will have a nasty fall.


            Step 1: Look at your driver’s license and write down the name on the contest form. Do not write “New York,” especially if you live in “North Dakota.”


            Step 2: Figure out what kind of contest you are entering. If you are entering, for instance, a writing contest, it would hurt your chances considerably if you mailed in a large zucchini. Unless, of course, you had printed a moving passage on the outside of it. (The zucchini, I hasten to mention, may lead to a moving passage, but don’t want to get into the medical aspects of this.)


            Step 3: Find out where you are supposed to mail your contest entry. Do not mail it to the place where your name is supposed to be, especially if your name is “Gertrude.” (If it is “New York,” or even “North Dakota,” you will have a better chance.)


            Step 4: Mail your entry.


            Step 5: Go back to the post office and ask for the entry back because you forgot to put a stamp on it.


            Step 6: Return home, have a cocktail and wait to be contacted by the contest committee.


            Step 7: Wait some more. Have another cocktail.


            Step 8: Skip this step.


            Step 9: Doze off.


            Step 10: Wake up, pat yourself on the back (being careful not to spill your cocktail) and bask in the knowledge that you are now an expert in how to lose a contest.