When I was a junior in high school, I was forced to attend participated in a spelling bee. It was actually oddly fun to prepare for it and I didn't mind it very much, as I've always had a knack for spelling things correctly. That and remembering birthdates seem to be my most salient Forrest-Gumpian characteristics.
I didn't make it very far in the spelling bee, however. My first word was "pyjamas", or as Americans like to spell it, "P-A-J-A-M-A-S"
When I was through spelling it all British-like, I was told I was wrong and therefore disqualified. I protested and was handed an enormous dictionary where, for the life of me, I could not find the alternate spelling.
After the bee was over, I finally found it, buried deep in the late Ps (obviously). I tried to point it out but was summarily told that since I hadn't been able to find it within the first three minutes, that it was moot and I was still DQ'ed.
I was very, very angry. I wish I'd been argumentative, nay, BITCHY enough to complain to a higher authority regarding the invalidity of that bee, since the rules stated clearly that the bee could not use any words with alternate spellings.
How do you spell bitter, after all these years? M-E.
Spelling is lately much in my mind, since becoming a parent gives you plenty of spelling bee practice on a very regular basis. It's also been on my mind because we might be seeing the end of that child-proof spelling period, in which things that would make sailors blush get telegraphed out of my mouth with astonishing intensity, on account of Herr Meow getting really reeally good at spelling.
To wit, I have a favorite twelve-letter darling that rhymes with brothertrucker, for instance, that gets muttered with worrisome frequency. Mmm… so satisfyingly vulgar.
Of course, spelling is fraught with mistakes.
Rev. Mom just child-proof spelled "bitch"– too bad it came out B-I-C-T-H. Wonder if that's some sort of early Indo-European tribe?
Which is funny because, well, it's funny, but also because some time ago Monsieur Meow also tried to spell "bitch" in a child-friendly manner and what came out was B-A-T-C-H. We still use that regularly around here as a euphemism.
And just today, Herr Meow has started spelling the word "Dad" proudly and loudly. Except that in one cruel twist of fate mixed in with Sesame Street-induced error, he's going around saying B-A-D DAD!
Monsieur Meow took offense.
Finally, I remember one of my earliest babysitting gigs and being urged, with a wink of delight and a complicit smile, to go ahead and get a treat out of the freezer if the kids were behaving well.
My beautiful, stylish, lovely boss smiled wide and whispered, "We've got S-H-E-R-B-E-R-T in the freezer!"
(I'm still hoping Robert and Hubert got away.)
Spelling. It's a batch.