In about twenty minutes, I’ll be heading over to my kids’ middle school to watch my 11-year-old daughter compete in the 6th grade spelling bee. I have not attended a spelling bee in (mumble mumble) years. Not since I competed in one. Because, you see, it was one of the greatest injustices of my life and I have never really wanted to be reminded of the experience. Nonetheless, here I am, going to a bee again.
As I’m writing this, I’m not 100% sure whether my Spelling Bee took place when I was in 6th grade or 8th grade. I’ve always remembered it as 8th grade, but now I’m having visions of the elementary school library. But it really doesn’t matter to the story. It goes like this: The field of contestants was whittled down to three kids, me and two others. One of the others was the boy who ultimately won. I no longer remember his name or his face. But I remember…oh, I remember how unfairly he won.
You see, I got out (third to last) on the word “connoisseur.” I came very close to spelling it correctly, just reversing the o and the i. I was disappointed, but, hey, that was okay, I didn’t spell it right, I was out. But then the final two kids duked it out. In a spelling bee, the last two contestants receive a word to spell until one misspells the word. The other contestant then has the opportunity to spell the word that was just missed. If he/she spells it correctly, then another word is given, and if that word is also spelled correctly, that contestant wins.
I don’t remember what the word that was originally misspelled was, but I do remember that it was something I could have spelled easily, which was disheartening. But then came the final word, the word on which the bee was won. And that word I remember. Because it was… Are you ready?
That’s right. After I am eliminated from the competition for misspelling a complicated word of French origin, the boy who won gets the word HERMIT!? There is something profoundly not right with the world!
Anyway, painful memories notwithstanding, I’m off to support my daughter in her first (but hopefully not last) spelling bee. And if she is eliminated on a hard word and the person who wins gets thrown a softball…well, we’ll have one more thing to commiserate over and laugh about when I’m in the nursing home :)!