Location: St. Vincent & Grenadines

You were driving home in the dark on one glass-slippered heel, window sliced open and bathing in the snowliquor of the night air. We heard you singing, and couldn't bear to wake you.

02 April 2006

They put a spell on me.

My First Spelling Bee Ever occurred last night, and it was both humbling and gratifying. To get into the First Annual All-Ages Sonoma County Spelling Bee I had to take a test online (and retake, for a fee, as many times as I cared to) and have one of the top 20 scores by the deadline. Did that. Saturday night, April the first, me and my posse head down to the Vets' Building, just a couple of blocks away from my hizzy. We detoured by the sushi restaurant so I could fill my mouth with hamachi poke and miso -- brain food! -- and then hit the spot.

Maybe for the Second Annual they'll find another location, or some kind of solution to the terrible acoustics of that space; every word echoed like a handball, and when young kids in the audience ran around screeching, the cacophony was ... well, cacophonous. Now see, why couldn't I have gotten a word like that? I can spell cacophonous. Cacophonous cacophonous cacophonous.

Yeah, I'm a little bitter. No, not bitter! Humble! Yes, humbling it was, for I didn't make it past the fourth word. The third, if you want to get technical, because the first word they gave us was "cerenoogelschmerz", which refers to a pain you get from rubbing your hands against your head, and which is totally not a real word because they made it up. April Fool!

So I spelled "immortal" and "incapable" correctly, but then I biffed it on "bouillon". I put an extra i after the double l and spelled it "bouillion". My French-Canadian grandfather would be ashamed of me. Oh well. On the upside, the people at my table won a prize for being the best cheerleaders in the room. They made a big yellow and black striped bee out of construction paper and glued it to a yardstick, and my daughter dressed in yellow and black and had a yellow crown and a yellow scarf. Hurrah! Ice cream gift certificates! So gratifying to have the best supporters in the room.

To be sure, "bouillion" snagged more than half of the contestants; I can take some solace in the fact that I wasn't the only dummy. This mass exodus brought a rather abrupt end to round one, in which contestants had to write the words on a pad of paper. In round two, the survivors had to recite the words orally. I sat there writing each word down on my now obsolete pad, gnashing my teeth over how easy all these other words were.

Pavilion masquerade. Rococo martyr. Erroneous zucchini, luscious crustacean, erroneous larceny whetstone. Buoyant assassin symmetry, indefatigable carrion guillotine, empyrean chrysanthemum silhouette. Charlatan paroxysm soliloquy.

In the final heat between Jessica Coleman and Dr. Norman Zucker, the words got really intense: "opprobrious", "anhydrous", "archizoic", "dactylion". Dr. Zucker finally won the day by correctly spelling "anemology". He had a beard but no mustache. I would not feel comfortable going to a doctor who had a beard but no mustache, but that's just me and I'm sure he has many satisfied clients. Ahem. Good show, Doc. I'll get you next year.


Anonymous Myke said...

Your French-Canadian grandfather would probably forgive you; how could you spell the word correctly, when we Americans pronounce it so horribly wrong?

10:26 AM  
Blogger Felix Helix said...

Yeah, it takes a horrible American mispronunciation to make a brand-name item like the Croissanwich possible.

8:29 PM  

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