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.