Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Spelling Bee

Pittsburgh's representative in the National Spelling Bee was eliminated yesterday after misspelling the word chervil. Reading this story this morning led me on yet another excruciating trip down memory lane:

I was in one of the preliminary competitions for that very same spelling bee when I was in 6th grade. After informing me that I'd been chosen to participate, my teacher gave me a special vocabulary book that had lists of words arranged according to subject with which to practice. Some of them were doozies. I practiced for the bee the same way I practiced for spelling tests: I'd skim through the book when I didn't have anything better to do or when my cousins weren't using it to play impromptu games of Balderdash, but other than that I didn't really place much importance on it.

I can't even remember where the event took place; it was in some nameless, totally forgettable auditorium with a little stage set up in it. I was pretty nervous, especially after I spotted where my parents were sitting and my mom gave me one of those perpetually embarrassing "I'm so proud of you, my little girl!" looks.

I made it through several rounds. I wasn't totally embarrassed by the word that I missed until years later, when I decided what I would spend the rest of my life studying:

The word I missed was financier.

I'm so embarrassed by this now, but really, how is an 11-year-old girl who hates math supposed to know what a financier is? Even if I would've asked the proctor to use it in a sentence, I still would've been up shit crick without a paddle (yes, in this neck of the woods, it's "crick"!). I can't even honestly say that being exposed to French earlier in life would have helped me, considering that I had never seen the word in print nor heard it pronounced until that point. So I suppose I'm beating myself up for nothing...but it's still embarrassing. That's like telling someone you're a bestselling author but can't write a decent sentence to save your life. Oops.

2 comments:

Sangroncito said...

If they ever have a spelling bee that includes knowing where to put the accent marks...I'll fail. I'm so bad at that! It´s laziness, actually.

Alison said...

I found your blog on Citizen of the Month's roll.

I couldn't NOT leave you a comment. I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, but spent most of my adult life in France. Three months ago I moved back to the States; I live in Kentucky now.

So, hi from another francophile/-phone/Yinzer/blogger. :)