Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Knip's eye view

Readers take spin with ranger and riddle

We think we got it. The answer to Loretta Motz Cook's annual Christmas puzzle we mean.

Cook is the Madeira woman who for 31 years has received a 3-D Christmas riddle on her doorstep every Christmas Eve. She still has no idea who's sending them, but the perp knows her plenty well - he or she has followed Cook through four changes of address.

A few of her greatest hits include:

A toy "Parton Cattle Co." truck full of cows crashing into a stockyard ("Wreck the stalls with cows of Dolly")

A bullet in a leafless tree ("Cartridge in a bare tree").

A fist in Play-Doh ("Smashing through the dough").

[photo] Adolph the doll wears red hose for the Christmas riddle.
(Joseph Fuqua II photo)
| ZOOM |
This year's riddle featured a park ranger standing atop a black Jeep. He's wearing a jacket with the name Adolph on it, a black skirt, red fishnet stockings and yellow high heels.

Since the description was printed last Tuesday, we've been swamped with responses (176 e-mails, 51 voice mails, one fax and one call at home at 7 a.m., when it's still dark out for heaven's sake). We heard from individuals, impromptu office committees, whole families, and a group of folk soaking up cocktails at a bar.

There's no way of telling for sure which answer is correct, because the perp never talks. But after 31 years, Cook thinks she can tell right from wrong.

"Adolph the red-hosed ranger," she says, is wrong, because solutions always take in the whole puzzle and that one ignores the black skirt and yellow heels. Nevertheless, that was the top response, with 56 e-mails and 31 voice mails, many of them claiming that the skirt and shoes are there only to show off his fishnet hose.

Cook thinks another response comes closer: "Adolph the red-hosed ranger, had a pair of shiny shoes." Or the variation, "had 10 very shiny toes." Those two received 12 votes combined.

One solution - this one got 16 e-mails and 12 voice mails - always came with an apology for being politically incorrect or a sheepish personal note like the one from a woman named Cindy: "I feel horrible even sending this because it's so awful. But it fits."

That one? "Adolph the red-hosed range queer."

"Ohmigosh, I have too many gay friends to even entertain that notion," Cook says.

Other "Rudolph" variations included "Adolph the drag queen ranger," "Adolph the cross dressing ranger" and "Adolph the red-hosed drag-deer," none of which worked for Cook.

Of the few solutions that veered from Rudolph, "Away in a Manger" was the biggest vote getter. "A gay in a Wrangler" (five votes) and "A gay in a Ranger"(six votes).

And then there's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Assuming Ranger Adolph has a moustache - yep - a gent name of Scott Cunningham liked "Cross-dressing hairy German man."

Oh, Cunningham also liked "This nut's coasting in his wife's attire," after the "Christmas Song" line "chestnuts roasting on an open fire."

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com

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