You Mean, She’s Like a Whole Lot of Cookies?

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.

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This entry was published on June 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm and is filed under Parental Samsara. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

10 thoughts on “You Mean, She’s Like a Whole Lot of Cookies?

  1. Ya know, I am such a horrible extemporaneous speller – I constantly got booted from the grade school weekly spelling bees in the first round. Your post reminded me of the one time I won the spelling bee an experience made so much sweeter because the other person in the final two was John Scazafava, my arch-nemesis in 7th grade.
    Thanks for the memory.

  2. Arrgggg! That sherbert madness drives me crazy!

  3. I posted this in a comment on another blog a while back, but when I took advanced chemistry in high school, we actually had a spelling question on a test. Our teacher wanted to make sure that we could properly spell the name of the reagent that causes magnesium to precipitate out of solution. It must have worked, because I not only remember what it does, I remember that it’s spelled paranitrobenzeneazoresorcinol.
    And just this week, I’ve seen bloggers who “way the options” and have their curiosity “peaked”. I guess at least they’re homonyms….

  4. Vixen on said:

    My internal writer cringes every time it sees words mispelled. Especially when people who claim to be well educated are making the mistakes.
    It’s bad enough that Canadians use the British spelling for a lot of words ending in “or” by using “our” like neighbour. At least I can tell people who say I’m spelling words wrong that I’m not.
    However people who use way instead of weigh, through instead of throw, and mix up their “ea” and “ee” spellings and other common mistakes (“ie” and “ei” in particular) make me wonder what they are being taught for English.
    For people I know well I can tease them a bit about it. For people I don’t know well, I simply point out the mistakes in a friendly manner or cringe and ignore it.
    Speaking of which, gilahi, that’s actually the right spelling of peaked. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Actually, Vix, it’s “piqued” when it’s your curiosity we’re talking about. When you’ve seen better days, that’s when you’ve “peaked”, so I’m afraid Gilahi takes this round ;o)

  6. You know what spelling errors I hate the most? The ones I notice in my own writing.
    But I also get peeved by “definate” and “make due.”
    As for sherbert, I’d be inclined to call it an alternate spelling:
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sherbert
    I’m coming to grips with the fact that definate is likely to become an alternate spelling.
    As for the pyjamas business, I’d be royally pissed.

  7. Vixen on said:

    That’s what I get for being distracted *glances at spouse who is currently being a pain again* when I write responses. ๐Ÿ˜›
    I was thinking that peaked referring to reaching a height or upper limit was spelled right and not thinking that curiosity is piqued because it’s not a common phrase for me. In fact, I haven’t heard or seen the phrase since high school. Scary. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I stand corrected. *bows*

  8. LOL. Too bad nobody under 30 can spell worth a “shot” thanks to Spell Checker and, now, text shorthand.
    We very well may be (getting choked up) the Greatest Generation of spellers.

  9. You were robbed! Alternate spellings should totally count!

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