Under A Spell

So, there you are, a 14-year-old kid, someone who should be hanging out at the food court with your pals, dreaming of Channing Tatum and those guys from One Direction and praying that puberty finally finishes you off with the kind of body that makes Kate Upton look like Keira Knightley.  But, instead, you wait anxiously for your next prompt, wondering whether it will be medical like methaemoglobinaemia or scientific as in deliquescent or mythological such as loup-garou.  One by one, your opponents are seated, downed by the subtle, the tricky, the archaic and extraordinary.  Then, it’s you.  Your shot, your chance.   The word: guetapens.  Your mind races, your palms dampen with perspiration, your tongue moves of its own accord.  G-U-E-T- is it an E or an I? A-P-E-N-S.

“That is correct!”  The crowd goes crazy, your knees go weak.  You’ve won!  You’ve finally won!!

And such was the tale of Snigdha Nandipati, winner of the 85th annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington.  Claiming she first showed an interest in spelling as early as age 4, this orthographic orator defeated 277 contenders to claim the title of Grand Spelling Bee Champion.  Her prizes include $30,000, a trophy and an online language course and she attributes her success to studying 6 to 10 hours a day on weekdays and 10-12 hours on weekends.

As uplifting and heartwarming as this story of adolescent ambition is, I was struck by one underlying thought throughout: what kind of mutant nimrod knows how to spell guetapens?!?!  I mean, please!  Get a life!  Be a teenager, for Britanica’s sake!  Rent Twilight, go to a Justin Bieber concert, get into a slapfight with Alicia, that tramp from Social Studies, because if she makes fun of your clothes one more time, you’re gonna slice her a new one!

Sorry.  I guess this whole story hit a wee bit too close to home.  All those 5am mornings at the ice rink, practicing my moves, double axels, triple lutzes, what have you, all to be the next Brian Boitano or Kurt Browning, came rushing back to me.  And next thing I know, there goes my childhood, poof, up in smoke, like so much wasted dreams on gossamer wings.  Damn them!  Damn them all to hell!

Erm.  Well, never mind.  Spilled milk and all that.  Good job, brainiac.


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