Monday, June 30, 2014

And the Loser Is...-

My confidence as a good speller has been with me all of my academic career. I spell well not because I studied harder than anyone else; I came by it naturally. I'm grateful for the Dick and Jane readers we had as children at Amherst Academy, and for learning phonics in first grade with Mrs. Ware. I was marking words with diacritical marks happily in my phonics workbook when I was six years old. I just got it; it was easy; it was fun. 

That being said, there have been times my confidence has gotten the best of me. I am NOT a perfect typist, and auto-correct has seen to it that I've sent some doozies for text messages. When others catch my mistakes, I can laugh it off, but inside, I'm mortified. My children take after me, and I think nothing makes them happier than catching their mom's mistakes in her blog!

7th grade, actually
There was one time, as a young teenager, that I had my most embarrassing experience with spelling. It was the Nelson County Junior High Spelling Bee, and I was an 8th grade participant, proudly representing my homeroom.

The competition saw to it that most of the contestants were dinged out of the competition by that gleaming, silver bell. We had come to the final two; my brother Kevin, a mere 7th grader, and me, the older, wiser 8th grader. This would be a piece of cake.

The auditorium was quiet. The announcer was ready to give me my word. I smiled under the bright lights of the stage. I was pretty sure I had this. 


Hah! I couldn't believe it! This was my lucky day. How could I get such an easy word during the final round? I'd seen that word every single day for the last four years in our old farmhouse kitchen. In the pantry, there was a large box of assorted plastic forks and knives. PLASTIK CUTLERY, the brand-name was emblazoned on the box. This was my big moment.

The Winner with Minnie Mouse
"Plastic. P-L-A-S-T-I-K. Plastic."

To say I was shocked when the judge's hand hit the metal bell would be an understatement. NO WAY! I'd seen that word every day of my life. It was ingrained in my brain. The word was PLASTIK. My face flamed red. My shoulders slumped. 

I looked at Kevin standing confidently beside me, his hands held together in front of him. My little brother simply spelled PLASTIC, and then his word, and it was all over. I was devastated.

Miss Smarty-Pants had her comeuppance that day. Lucky for me, Kevin was a good sport; I'll give him that. I learned more than one lesson that day. And you can bet I never spelled "plastic" wrong again.


  1. Too funny! I can see some of myself in your story. Reading, writing, and spelling were my forte in a family with five brothers. The word that failed me at my 7th grade spelling bee was "alligator" - or was it aligator? My family made fun of me for years, so much so that all creatures of that essence are only known as "crocs" to me. To this day, I still question myself every time I have to consider the use of that dreaded word - alligator!

    1. It's always good to hear from my twin! Thanks for sharing. I'd use CROCS, too. I've learned to substitute what I know for anything of which I'm uncertain!

  2. I loved this and it reminded me of a word I missed in a spelling bee. Though it was an earlier one, I believe. The word? matches And like you, I didn't misspell it after that. :)


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