Thursday, September 29, 2005

Worker bees

This just in from the New York Times: "Adult-only spelling bees, born of nostalgia and spiked with alcohol, have become increasingly popular social activities for brainy hipsters in their 20's and 30's."

The story says they are drawing the type of people who might normally be found at art gallery openings or indie rock concerts.

My god. They're talking about me. I'm not brainy or hip by New York standards. Or any other cities', for that matter. And I can't really spell spelling-bee words. But I do enjoy indie-rock shows. And drinking.

I might go to one or two were I living in New York.

Said one of these spelling-bee creators: "It resonates with people. Everyone has a spelling bee story."

I do, too. There were two of us left in the Hadley Middle School spelling bee. I was in seventh grade; Nathan was in sixth. I was told to spell "absorb" and said A-D-S-O-R-B. I was out. Nathan spelled his word right and won.

My cool language arts teacher, with dictionary in hand, protested. He noted that my spelling was in the dictionary. They offered me the chance to get this party rolling again.

I declined.


At 5:52 PM, September 29, 2005, Anonymous polyglot conspiracy said...

This. Is. Awesome.

At 9:11 PM, September 29, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

Ninety. In eighth grade. I get all the hard words right, but when it's down to the final three I go all "ninty" and shit.

At 9:22 PM, September 29, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

In fourth grade, three of us were left. The word was "remember." I was first and spelled, real slow like, R-E-M-B-E-R. So did the second person, and so did the third.

We all lived to spell another word.

At 9:48 PM, September 29, 2005, Blogger Nuclear Redaction said...

Eighth grade. Two of us left. I spelled "embarrass" with one R. If only the winning word had been "a propos."

At 11:56 PM, September 29, 2005, Anonymous Denise Covert said...

I was left with a boy a grade below me on whom I'd had a monster crush. He was so tall and handsome. Well my word was "stretchy" and I totally blew it -- my dad kept saying, "how could you miss that, you were standing next to Stretch!"

At 1:15 AM, September 30, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

Before the humiliation ...

At 4:33 AM, September 30, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

What, no plaid pants for you, Bill?

That picture is priceless.

At 8:57 PM, September 30, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

I saw "a propos" spelled appropos today.

At 3:49 AM, October 01, 2005, Blogger Craig said...

Fifth grade, Smithfield Elementary School, 1981. I'm in the final two of the all-school spelling bee. My worthy competitor, whose name I've forgotten, misspells "inertia." I spell it correctly, then get "keyboard" as my victory word.

Thing is, I keep pronouncing it, and the person giving the word keeps misunderstanding me.

Me: "Keyboard."

Pronouncer: "Keyboard."

Me: "Keyboard."

Pronouncer: "Keyboard."

Me: "Keyboard."

Pronouncer: "Keyboard."

Me (figuring, screw it): "K-E-Y-B-O-A-R-D."


(Later, in the district spelling bee, I spell "conspiracy" C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-E -- just as I had everysinglefreakingtime in practice. Stupid phonetics.)

At 6:09 AM, October 01, 2005, Blogger MJ said...

I still think my biggest spelling bee error was caused by technical problems: I couldn't understand the reader because his microphone didn't seem to work correctly.

Northeast Oklahoma regional spelling bee, 1978. As a seventh grader, it was my next-to-last shot at making it to the state bee.

Reader: am-wah-blade.

Me: Ambulate?

Reader: ohm-pah-blate.

Me: Amputate?

Reader: em-pew-late.

Me: Empulate?

Reader: Please spell the word.

Me: E-M-P-U-L-A-T-E.

Reader: The word was "emulate." E-M-U-L-A-T-E.

And so I went down. The following year I lost the school bee to a superstar seventh-grader, who contracted some disease that kept her from going to the city one, and presumably also kept her from calling anyone to let them know she wouldn't be there so that I, the alternate, could go defend the glory of Nimitz Junior High in the Tulsa bee. As you can probably tell, it caused me irreparable psychic damage. ;-)

(Actually, I do think it's pretty interesting that all of us remember our spelling bee humiliations in such excruciating detail.)

At 11:36 AM, October 01, 2005, Blogger Craig said...

The cool thing about winning the spelling bee -- aside from the opportunity to relive it 24 years later -- is that it catapulted me to, like, a year's worth of fame at school.

A few months later, I was elected student council president on the sheer strength of my ability to spell "keyboard." It certainly wasn't because of my sweeping vision of excellence for Smithfield.

It was funny -- the other kids running for office were all Reese-Witherspoon-in-"Election" and crap, handing out balloons and cupcakes, and I just put my name on a few posters and said "I won the spelling bee."

Fifth grade effin' ruled!

Now, I could do something way more impressive, like editing an award-winning project, and the good graces would last only until the next time I turned down a vacation request.

At 12:58 AM, October 03, 2005, Blogger cl said...

I'd be all over that.

I went an extra round in the seventh-grade spelling bee because they accepted my "British" spelling of license.


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