Friday, March 25, 2022

Spelling bee kid

One of the highlights of my youth was my Spelling Bee career. When you're a pudgy little nerd, you take your competitive events where you can get them, and I was a great speller. In 8th grade I took the Denver written spelling test and I did well enough to qualify for the state test, also in Denver. That memorable day began with the test in a fancy hotel downtown, followed by a lunch banquet for all us little geeks and our parents. After lunch, the top 20 spellers, based on the state written test, were announced, and I was one of them!

They piled us into taxis – my first ever, having grown up in suburbs, where everybody has a car – and sent us to the studios of channel 7, a local TV station that broadcast the final rounds live. I survived for an hour or so under the hot studio lights. What pressure! Then, with 5 people remaining, I met my fate: frontispiece, which I misspelled "fronticepiece". Ding! My fifth-place finish earned me a dictionary, which I still have somewhere.

All my spelling bee memories are happy. There was no cramming, no parental or self-imposed pressure, no worrying. I only wished there had been a professional spelling league in which I could become a star and earn a living. Yes, dreams die hard.


1 comment:

  1. I would argue your lengthy career was simply a long-term spelling bee in which your routine paychecks were the prize.

    I too was a spelling bee nerd, but I was not pudgy. I won our school contest in 4th, 5th and 7th grades. In 6th grade I lost at the class level on something frivolous.

    I got to the state championship twice, in 5th and 7th grades. In 5th grade, I did well -- 17th in the entire state of California. No prize for that, though. In 7th grade I was less focused, and lost rapidly. By 8th grade, we'd moved, and changed schools, and that school didn't even have a Bee, so I had no chance to try again.