September 16, 2007

Nostalgika XVI: The Tragedy of the School Spelling Bee

Goldmine! My mother found my childhood crapbook scrapbook (basically just a binder with plastic sheets filled with things I cared about). Lucky you! Now I can document & share more of my childhood.

Now then:

(click for the bigger goodies)

I don't know if you can tell, but in this picture I am trying really hard not to cry. I'm the cutie on the right with the jaunty neckerchief and the new glasses. I have just completely embarrassed myself, and winning third place is no consolation. Even when I take my prize coupon to McDonald's and get my free burger a few weeks later, its taste is bitter and rank with shame.


Everything was going fine, and then I got cocky. I breezed through all the words they threw at me, and by the way, did I mention I was a fourth grader at the fifth grade spelling bee? Seems like the town newspaper left out that important detail. Hmph! I am in the big league now!!!

I cranked out all these hard words: Ridiculous, neighbor, phrase. Then came my death-knell: Scissors. I know how to spell it, really I do. But you would never have known it by the way I reeled out the letters at lightning speed:

S--C--I--R--R--O--R--S. Scissors!

The look of horror on my mother's face in the audience instantly told me I had blown it, but I had no idea how. What did I say?!?!?! Her mouth agape, her eyebrows fixed in a frown of dismay ... that look is forever burned in my brain. I felt a flush begin at my heart and rush upwards to color my face and force its way out of my eyes as I listened to the second-place winner next to me recite the proper spelling. She fell shortly thereafter, but there was no joy in her fall for me, the loser who substitutes R's for S's.

Later, during our press photo, I tried to smile but the corners of my mouth did that funny little dance that they do when you have been smiling too long, as I fought to keep my tears and my choking sobs inside. On the drive home I listened to the consolations and teachings of my parents, and carried the lesson about "taking my time" into my bedroom, where I flopped onto the bed and cried, with visions of double S in my mind.

In later years, I would brag to others that I had "won" the town spelling bee. Nobody seemed to remember the truth, and I felt that my fall was really just a technicality, after all. I knew how to spell both of the words that came after "scissors," so if I hadn't rushed through that one I probably would have won. This was my mantra through middle school and even into high school. But I never ate a McDonalds hamburger again without visualizing that word and tasting the salt of my own tears.



Click IMBWT and the "nostalgia" tag below more childhood fun!

24 comments:

B.E. Earl said...

Whatever happened to the other two in the photo?

You know...the smart ones. ;)

John Eaton said...

For me it was "drawers," which came out "droughers."

I cried and went on to bigger words.

John :)

Osbasso said...

"diphtheria" did me in. I accused them of purposely mispronouncing it on purpose, so that Jimmy Scribner could win. He went on to be the class valedictorian. He was killed in a plane crash a year after graduation.

jamwall said...

You really really don't wanna misspell the word "Edcucation"..."Edjnacation"....
"Edgacaution"...oh fuck it!

jamwall said...

My poor precious one. Let me console you by beating the shit out of Ronald McDonald.

Martin Stickland said...

Wow, Iadmye sumwun wHo KaN spel gOod unlick me whu DUs not spel tOo weLl.

Did you say I have nice Tits in your post about my brain being yellow and are you really 100? My Gran would say BO*LO*Ks but is too much of a lady to say Tits!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

PS I know you are not 100 really, your are funny little sausage!

spants said...

Oh the drama! I love it.

In fifth grade, placed second by spelling calendar "d-e-r" instead of "d-a-r". I felt the same shame that you did, since I did in fact know how to spell calendar. I just didn't take the time to think before blurting out the answer.

Kat said...

That's like the horror of finding the winning lottery ticket one day after the redemption limit expires.

tuuna taco said...

For me it was "M-U-N-D-A-N-E." I had never heard that word before and I can't remember now how I spelled it but it wasn't the right way.
Whenever I hear someone use this word I still get chills. Usually I make sure I use it once a day.

jiggs said...

Spelling is not my strong suit.

Pope Terry said...

Scirrors ha! what a loser...

Now back to my own bolg... dammit!

Think Frustrated said...

I never participated in spelling bees. I got picked on too much already for being smart. However, I remember that I was always in the school plays. One year, my superior acting skills got me the part of "Santa Claus" over all the fat kids who wanted the part. (I was skinny and bookish with taped glasses.) During one number, my belt fell off, my pants fell down, and the pillow that was my gut hit the floor. Everyone in school and their parents, grandparents, etc. go to see my tighty whities. I never acted in a school play again. That one incident took away what would have become a sucessful career in stag films and soap operas.

FRITZ said...

Spelling bees!

Ack!

Runners-up of spelling bees lead a somewhat disenchanted life. "If only," we think, "we had won the school spelling bee and gone on to district and then state..." Why, we could have been poet laureates of some fancy-dancy school and have scholarships and married far about our stations...alas..

My word in the fifth grade bee (I was ALSO the only fourth grader) was 'latter'. Pronounced by a Southerner. Of course, I spelled L-A-D-D-E-R. Damn rednecks--probably cheated me out of a glorious life.

Melissa said...

Isn't it funny how everyone remembers the word that tripped them up? For me it was "interest," which I insisted on spelling I-N-T-R-E-S-T. I knew better! I knew there was another E in there, but I skipped right over it.

I've never misspelled it since.

Kudos on placing, no matter how it felt at the time.

sleepydog said...

I won the spelling bee and got to meet the Governor. He was an asshole.

BTW, I'm not big on musicals, but if you ever get the chance to see "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" you should do it. It was funny.

My name is Chris Quigley and I approve of this message.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Eff spelling bees. That's why Microsoft invented spell-check.

Or, they stole it from Apple. Either way, you don't need to know how to spell.

Scarlet Hip said...

My God. We had the same glasses. And the same haircut. And the same outfit.

scirrors!

Leezer said...

Hi Spinning Girl:

I found you from Jacob (Think Frustrated). I, too, suffered similar horrors. I represented the seventh grade in a spelling bee, and misspelled "tariff" (I put two "r"s and one "f") I still can't spell it. I had to look it up just to write it here. See how traumatic these things are????

i am the diva said...

what a dramatic tale!

i've never participated in a spelling bee. :(

J said...

That story was awesome. I used to love spelling bees as a kid because I thought I was good at them, even though there was virtually no evidence to back up this belief.

Lauren said...

You can never tell the good luck from the bad until the end.

You are much better off for not liking McDonald's. Scissor is a stupid work anyway!

Madge said...

You are so cute. Cookie Monster loves Spinning Girl.

Andy Behrens said...

But calender with "d-e-r" is correct. It's a roller machine that presses paper to make it glossy.

maisymoo said...

Hello SG:
I participated in that very Bee, but you three bitches beat me out. I was the top speller at Head O'Meadow, winning on the word "physician." I then choked miserably on the word "Valuable," spelling it "Valuble" in the town-wide competition. I, too, have known no greater shame. Thanks for the memories.