I won. THE Spelling Bee. I am the Champion!!!! I beat out masses of people – SIX – to become The Adult Spelling Winner of San Antonio. As you applaud my winningness, I will curtsy. Interestingly enough, “curtsy” was one of my words. (Actually, I almost flubbed that because it was technically “curtsied”, but the officials, who were not exactly punctilious -perhaps due to a couple of glasses of wine – were kind of lenient, and repeated the sentence for me. Once I ascertained that the word was in the past tense, I correctly spelled it without hesitation. It was a tense moment, though.)
No one seemed too interested in hearing my prepared Acceptance Speech immediately following the Bee, so I will offer it to you today. Since you’ve already added to my site stats by clicking on this link, it matters not to me that you don’t read it.
“I would like to thank all of the people, I mean myself, for encouraging me to take on this daunting project. Having never participated in a Spelling Bee designed for people over 10, I did not know what to expect. But I refused to let that sway me from my chosen path. I persevered through the harrowing training (reading the book- at least most of it) with the persistence of a Wall Street Occupier, and triumphed over the many obstacles that were thrown in my path along the way – such as my colonoscopy and a bulldog with no regard for anything other than him that receives too much of my attention. It is with no small amount of pride that I accept this award to place on my shelf as evidence of my great spelling prowess. Thank you to Bill Fisher and Gemini Ink for hosting the Bee and to David Liss for writing the truly excellent book (that I wish I had written), The Whiskey Rebels, from which the delightfully uncommon words were chosen. I would also like to extend my eternal gratitude to the other contestants who apparently have lives and didn’t study obsessively like I did.
A special thank you must be offered to my bulldog, Wonderbutt, for not eating my copy of The Whiskey Rebels. This particular story might have had a completely different ending if he had not been so unobservant the other night when I inadvertently left my study guide on the table well within his reach for well over thirty minutes.”
Fortunately, Mr. Fisher wisely noted that the original prize, an inscribed copy of The Whiskey Rebels, would be slightly less valuable to the participants who had purchased the book already in order to cram for the Bee. He offered, instead, A Conspiracy of Paper, also by David Liss. Mr. Liss, himself, was on hand to autograph my copy.
I expect that I will be quite busy for a few days helping my agent to iron out my contract with Barbara Walters. So, don’t be concerned if it appears that my daily posts have been discontinued. As I advance to the Adult Spelling Bee Semi-finals (which are yet to be announced), I pledge to you that I will not allow this new role of Adult Spelling Bee Champion of San Antonio (and the Greater Metropolitan Area) to interfere with my duty to entertain my subscribers.
Now, please excuse me while I make sure that Wonderbutt has not chewed through the phone line again as the instrument appears to be inexplicably inaudible on a day when it should be ringing off the hook with phone calls from the paparazzi.
To my family’s great chagrin, I’ve finally started studying for my Adult Spelling Bee. Along with everyone else in the Firepants household, Wonderbutt is not pleased that my attention is on a book instead of him, and he is eyeing said book very hungrily.
According to the Adult Spelling Bee Press Release, the words will be chosen from the novel The Whiskey Rebels. The Powers that Be in Charge of the Bee are announcing the novel ahead of time to promote good reading as well as good spelling.
The book is set a few years after the Revolutionary War, so there are words in there that no one ever uses anymore – especially my 6 to 10 year-old students, who are the actual authors of most of what I read these days.
I mean, I think I used to know what penury was, but when was the last time someone used that in a text message?
EVERY word in the novel is fair game, including proper nouns and hyphenations. I am really bad at hyphenated words. I always try to stick them together. They just look so sad with that little line between them, separating them for some obscure reason that seems about as logical as denying same sex marriages.
So I am even studying the review excerpts on the very, very, very first page just in case. OMG. There’s a Reader’s Guide and Acknowledgements at the end. Crap, I can’t even spell acknowledgements. I just got corrected by my computer.
I tried skimming the text, looking for possible problem words. But then I, with the true logic of a procrastinator, reasoned that I would learn the more archaic words better in context. So, I started reading the book.
Well, that complicated things enormously. The book is INTERESTING! And it’s even making me laugh. You see, one of the main characters, Ethan Saunders, is one of those thoroughly unlikable likable men that makes you want to chuckle, and kind of root for him, even though he is a complete cad. I kind of picture him as the young Bruce Willis in Moonlighting or a –
Oh, goshdarnit. I just read four chapters without paying actual attention to the words. I mean, I read them, of course, but I forgot to make mental note of their spellings because I was too engrossed in the story…
You might be wondering why I am putting myself through this torture. I think, like poor Ethan Saunders, I am trying to find something I can be good at again. Plus, I think there’s a prize. Let me see what it is again…
Oh, yeah. It’s the book. The book I just forked over a ridiculous amount for at Barnes and Noble when I could have bought it for less (but not gotten it in time) from Amazon. The book I obtained so I could, uh, study. The book that Wonderbutt plans to eat as soon as I set it down somewhere remotely bulldog accessible.
I’m in trouble.
My Adult Spelling Bee is only a week away, and I haven’t even started studying.
To be fair (to myself), I only found out a week ago what I was supposed to be studying. Until then, I was a little hazy on the details of the entire program, and still wondering if I was supposed to tutor myself with a dictionary or the Kama Sutra. I was kind of thrown by the implications of the word “Adult” in the title.
But, last week, I received an e-mail that seemed to clear that up. Apparently, the words are going to be chosen from a novel called The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss.
The updates I’ve been getting about this Spelling Bee haven’t been completely reliable. The first e-mail announcing the Adult Spelling Bee stated that I should “Make Reservations Now”, an act which I promptly attempted. I was stymied, however, by the receptionist at the hosting organization, who stated that this was not necessary.
The second e-mail also strongly recommended reservations. I called at a different time of day, hoping to talk to a different person, who might be a little bit more qualified to make such important decisions as to whether or not she should write my name down on a piece of paper. Considering I had no idea who I had talked to the first time, I am not sure this plan succeeded. Regardless, I was once again turned away with a pretty authoritative, “Just show up.”
Last week, I got the third e-mail. This e-mail gave more information, but once again ended with the phone number for making reservations. Because I was pretty certain that no one would know I was the Obsessive Compulsive Person With No Life who had called the first two times, I decided to make one more attempt.
“Wow! We just sent out that e-mail!”
“Yep. Just arrived in my in-box. And it says I need to reserve my space.”
“Oh. It does? Well, I’m not in charge of that. But let me just take your name down and I’ll give it to the person in charge.”
Me – “Uh, do you want my name now?”
“Oh, uh sure.”
So, I spelled out my name, making sure they got the “Firepants” part of it correct (people always want to make that two words), and they, I imagine, pretended to write it down.
I swear, if I show up next Friday for this shindig, and they don’t have Mrs. Cap’n Firepants down on their list, I am going to be one unhappy Adult Speller.