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The Spelling Bee

May 5, 2009

It’s been quiet around here. How about a thrilling story from my youth?

I was always a little nerdy (shocker, I know.) And I am naturally a pretty good speller (this doesn’t mean I don’t make typos or spell some words wrong occasionally. Don’t go being an internet jerk and find all my misspellings.) And way back in fourth grade, I was a champion speller. Really.

I went to this awesome elementary school. It was really a crazy place where we ran our own businesses, went on whale watching tours and somehow were let out at lunch time to go to a shopping center for lunch. In any case, like most sane schools, we had an annual spelling bee. The winner gets to go on to the district, etc. The way most classes handled it, was that there was a class spelling bee, and then the winner gets to go on to the school level. Well, I won Mr. Feldman’s class contest, and went to an assembly with all the other 4th, 5th and 6th grade winners.

Me, in what I think is around 4th grade. Mom isn't great at labeling pictures.

Me, in what I think is about 4th grade. Mom isn't great at labeling pictures.

This thing was really a nail biter. People were dropping like flies, but sure enough, it was between me and Douglas Kasim (I am intentionally misspelling his name. If he found this blog in a vanity search, I would die!).  Douglas was a 6th grader. A sixth grader! I was in fourth grade. This.Was.Huge.  After a tense moment where the judges debated over “mountainous” – I won the spelling bee. I remember looking out and seeing Mr. Feldman do some sort of crazy fist-pumping action.  As the winner I got some giant book called “Liberty” and a spot in the district competition.

Well, for a nerd like me? This was heaven. I went home, every grandparent, everywhere was called. It was a Big Deal. The next morning at school, I was called down to the principal’s office.  I almost died. The principal’s office? I have never, ever been down there. Terrified, I went down. In the office was Mr. Siegerman and Douglas Kasim. Apparently, the district competition is only for 5th – 8th grades. Fourth graders were not allowed, and were only allowed to compete on the school level for practice. No one ever thought we would win. So, not only was I not allowed to go to the district competition, they actually asked me for the book back! They were going to strip me of the prize! I don’t remember what happened after that, because I saw the book in my mom’s house the other day – so I guess maybe she called him and told him to go to hell.

In any case, Douglas went to the district. And lost in the first round. And I was never, ever able to win a spelling bee again. I totally freeze. In 5th grade, I got out on the word “chocolate” (I forgot the ‘o’ in the middle).

My grandma had a trophy made up for me. It is still prominently displayed on my bookshelf.

spellingtrophy

Not My Bookshelf. Also, I felt an unexplained need to conceal my last name.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2009 7:57 pm

    Awwww. I love your trophy and your grandma! Today’s parents would sue for age-discrimination. Go have some hot choclate, snuggle your trophy, and read your hard-earned book.

  2. LittleMissSarcasm permalink
    May 5, 2009 8:06 pm

    Awwww…Eri…this is just about the funniest sad story ever. Seriously, I laughed AND cried a little.

    p.s. Your Grandma is the bomb for getting that made up for you.

  3. May 5, 2009 8:59 pm

    I was in a similar situation in grade school, I want to say 5th grade. Just missed the cut-off and finished 3rd in the class Bee which made me first alternate in case of illness. Sure enough there was illness and I got to compete against the entire school, only to fail on the first word. Apparently when I’m nervous I think there’s a U in “aloof” 😦

  4. Frank permalink
    May 5, 2009 9:09 pm

    1. You’re cute.
    2. That’s our crossword puzzle!

  5. meredithelaine permalink
    May 5, 2009 11:32 pm

    Awwww. I love this story a lot. Sucks that you didn’t “really” win, or whatever, but you still got a TROPHY. Which is so unbelievably rad, I can’t begin to describe.

  6. May 6, 2009 3:45 pm

    OH my god, my real 5th grade (that’s legal) spelling bee trophy looks JUST LIKE THAT. Who knew! I guess spelling doesn’t have a lot of imagery that translates well to trophy forms. I did go to Regionals (highly embarrassing) and got a crappy consolatory trophy with a bee on it. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss much.

    • May 6, 2009 3:51 pm

      My grandmother obviously did extensive research. What was your “out” word?
      P.S. You are my hero.

      • May 6, 2009 6:09 pm

        It was “obstetrician”. What kind of a cruel and twisted mind believes a 10 year old should know the word obstetrician? It still haunts me…I could have gone pro!

  7. May 6, 2009 8:48 pm

    The trophy is the best part of this story. And, I can’t believe they asked for the book back. That’s so messed up. I’d be livid! Who would kick a 4th grader out of their rightfully entitled spelling bee and then take their book!?

    Oh, now you got me all worked up. See what you do with your STORIES. =)

  8. Frank permalink
    May 6, 2009 10:01 pm

    Today everybody gets a trophy.

  9. Steffi permalink
    May 7, 2009 8:56 am

    absolutely love the picture. that is so adorable.

    as a girl, i also had to wear glasses and had to take a lot of crap for that. today looking back at old pictures i think the glasses were quite cute!

    did you suffer because of them, too?

    • May 7, 2009 9:01 am

      Not too badly. Actually, now that I think about it, I was probably in 5th grade here, because I think in 3rd or 4th I had this awesomely horrible pink plastic glasses.

      The only really bad year was 7th grade, when I had glasses and braces. Eighth grade brought straight teeth and contacts.

      I was teased for many, many reasons (believe it or not – in this picture, I was the fat girl) but mercilessly escaped “four eyes” comments.

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