Ever since I was a kid, I would get excited whenever I saw the Scripps National Spelling Bee on TV at the end of May. It’s one of those things where you do a double take and question why it’s on a sports channel, but two minutes later you’re hooked and hanging on every letter.
I seem to like really obscure things that aren’t the norm, so when you put a bunch of kids on stage and ask them to spell words that no one has ever heard, that’s entertaining to me.
Back in the day (if I can sound hip for a second), one girl stepped up to the microphone and received her word: “Epopt”.
That’s pronounced, “Eh-pawpt” for those of you playing along at home.
Well, this girl couldn’t pronounce it to save her lunch money.
She would say it louder each time, it turned into a comedy routine. How many different ways could she say the word before settling on the actual pronunciation?
Minutes were passing by and she still wasn’t saying the word correctly, so the adult reading the word had to go on stage and say it right next to her.
I’m pretty sure she’s the reason they instituted a time limit.
That moment has stuck with me – and my mom – forever. We still say “Epopt” to each other whenever one of us trips over the pronunciation of a word.
This year, I didn’t really watch the Spelling Bee because the Raptors were in the NBA Finals and I was incapable of comprehending anything other than that.
I did tune in for a few words, but it felt really slow and boring. I didn’t have the patience to listen to the definition of each word, or its language of origin, or how it was used in a sentence that got a chuckle from the audience.
I believe the broadcast was set for two and a half hours, but the Spelling Bee would go until there was a winner, or they ran out of words. With about 40 minutes left in the broadcast, I flipped over and saw there were still 11 kids remaining.
Holy big words, that’s a lot for this stage. So I shout over to my mom that there will probably be nine winners because there’s no way they’ll all drop out.
I go back to the Raptors game and check Twitter afterwards to see who won the Spelling Bee.
Well, it was an eight-way tie for first place! I was so close.
They’re spelling words like, Dorskopylyptic, and aren’t even hesitating.
Dorskopylyptic is a fake word that I just created, by the way. It means, “the occasion in which one holds the door open for the person behind them, but feels awkward upon realizing that person is too far away”
Used in a sentence, “Billy thought he would be nice, but quickly found himself in a dorskopylyptic situation thanks to Henry.”
I really need to create my own language.
I’ve always been a good speller. I attribute some of that to my early years of sitting outside with a mini chalkboard and spelling the words my mom quizzed me and my sister on.
In Grade 1, we had a spelling test and out of ten words, I only got one wrong. I got it wrong because I misheard the teacher and spelled a different word.
In Grade 6, our class had a Spelling Bee. We were told that participation was optional, but if you wanted to be in it, you could study the key words that appeared throughout the Spelling textbook.
For some reason, I decided not to participate. Maybe it was the whole standing at the front of the class that held me back. So, I didn’t study.
The day of the Spelling Bee arrives and the teacher asks everyone participating to stand at the front. Half the class went up.
And then slowly but surely, almost everyone still sitting down was coerced into participating, including me. I didn’t study, I’m not prepared!
Poor Preparation Prevents Peak Performance!
So much for optional participation.
Anyway, by the time first recess came around, the competition was down to two. Myself and someone else. The finals would play out after recess.
I go outside and am immediately approached by the other finalist and their flock of friends. They asked me if I could lose on purpose because the prize was a gift card to Chapters (bookstore) and “they would actually use it” and “what would I do with it, do I even go to Chapters?”
They were clearly one of the smartest people in the class, if not the grade, and here comes me – pretty smart, too, if I say so myself. I was good at the subjects that required an immediate answer like, spelling and math. No wonder I’m witty. Woah.
I was proud of myself for making them nervous. I’d fear me, too. There was no way I was going to let them win, though.
I didn’t even think about telling the teacher about this potential Beegate scandal. What would happen? I win be default? The other person cries? That’s too messy. I’ll just win.
As it turned out, I ended up losing the Spelling Bee. I can’t remember what word I got wrong. That’s probably a good thing. I would’ve outlawed it from my vocabulary.
I’m still bitter about coming in second place, mainly because I really wanted to shove that gift card in their face. I also really hate losing. I’m not a sore loser, I’ll be respectful, but it’ll eat at me.
Who the heck likes losing, anyway?
So, that’s my story. Perhaps it’s no coincidence I ended up with this blog.
In basketball, shooters shoot. In writing, spellers spell.
Are you a good speller? Were you ever in a Spelling Bee? What’s your favourite word? What word always trips you up?