The Snellpig Bee – PART 2


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I spent the rest of that Saturday spelling. And Sunday. It’s bad enough they made me go to church (which should totally have counted as work), but to come home afterwards and be forced to continue learning . . . abusive. The next three days went as follows:

Monday – breakfast, school, chores, spelling practice, bedtime

Tuesday – breakfast, school, chores, spelling practice, bedtime, nightmare about my ceiling fan eating me.

Wednesday – breakfast, school, chores, dinner, thirty minutes of Space Invaders with Dad (wherein he asked me to spell “invaders” – I read the cartridge’s label when he wasn’t looking), bedtime, slept naked because I started getting erections at this point and my tighty-whities felt restrictive . . .

Thursday morning, the day of the spelling bee. Dad shuffled into my room earlier than usual to wake me. He leaned over to pull the sheet off.

“Alright, partner. Time to get uh—“

His son’s hairless bare ass reflected the dawn sending Dad into reverse.

“Why are you naked?”

Ummmmmm.

After breakfast, Mom gave me a hug and kiss, a lunchbox full of greatness, and a “Good luck!” She gave Dad some bills to pay and a “We have dinner with People You Hate tomorrow night”. Some of my parents’ friends had been grandfathered in and due to our church affiliation, it was imperative Mom and Dad see them every few months so as to keep our boarding passes for the rapture valid. Southern Baptist dinner parties meant Dad pretending to believe in Jonah and burning bushes for two hours, without the assistance of LSD. And Mom was forced to give two shits about fund raising, listen to gossip disguised as prayer requests, and scheduling the next Bible study. Amen.

I loaded into Dad’s smelly diesel Mercedes and waved at Mom standing on the front porch. On the short drive to school – exactly one mile down the road short – I let the words I’d studied the last several days percolate through my mind. Over two-hundred words. More than enough to stress me ou—

“Can you spell encyclopedia?” Dad blurted.

“No. It’s not on the list. I don’t have to know it.”

“Doesn’t mean they won’t ask it.”

Yes . . . yes that’s exactly what that means. Not on list – won’t be asked. Very simple. No room for interpretation.

“Always be prepared, son. Right?” His leading question quoted Cub Scout rhetoric. “I noticed that the word encyclopedia is in your spelling book’s glossary. That means it’s fair game.”

And this is the best time to bring it up? Thirty seconds before dropping me off? “But it’s NOT on the list.”

Dad argued that the absence of “encyclopedia” from the list merely implied someone made a mistake and forgot to include it. And before I could rejoinder he jumped into his trick for remembering how to spell the phantom word. “You sing it,” he said, “in your head.”

(Insert blank expression)

“To the tune of Mickey Mouse. You know, M – I – C (beat) K – E – Y (beat) M – O – U – S – E! Mickey Mouse!” he sing-songed as he pulled alongside the curb to the school. “But use encyclopedia instead. Like this: E – N – C (beat) Y – C – L (beat) O – P – E – D – I – A! Encyclopedia!”

Yes, Reader, there are twice as many syllables. Which means you must sneak the last “a” into the end of the tune turning it into a rhythmic apocalypse.

“Have a great day, son. And good luck!” The passenger window rolled down and I heard him singing that ridiculous song as he drove away. “M – I – C (beat) K – E – Y . . . “

A big sigh filled my lungs before I slugged to the school’s entrance and dismissed Dad’s last minute tip. This was not a test, there were no grades. No need to panic or give it a second thought.

Ѳ

Mom packed a mustard and bologna sandwich with a Fruit Rollup in my Spiderman lunchbox. Behind my Thermos of juice . . . a hand-written note: “Good luck, William! I love you!”

“William’s got a love note! William’s got a love note!” Corey – a roach of a human who twitched and smelled of cured meat. He sat behind me at an adjacent table.

I reacted without thinking, “No it’s not! It’s from my mother.”

Shot myself in the foot.

“William loves his mommy! William loves his mommy!” Corey tried to rally a group jeer, but I was more popular. That and I hadn’t recently been caught eating my own nose-haggis during recess like Mr. Donkey Vagina behind me. His public attempt solicited a just retribution.

“Shut up and eat your boogers, Corey!” Nancy yelled from my table.

Ah, saved by my harem once again. I would reward Nancy with copious amounts of eye contact later.

I asked John if he’d studied for the spelling bee. His “no” came in the form of “What spelling bee?”

Sarah, my constant-crush with her strawberry red hair, sat next to me. Today she resembled the Wendy caricature with her double side ponytails and blue plaid shirt. I knew I was in love with her in second grade – we were lined up to go back inside after recess, she ran up to me, tapped me on the shoulder, then kissed me on the cheek . . . in front of everyone. Strong move. I was hooked.

“Are you ready, William?” she asked before sipping from her juice box.

I wished I was the straw her soft, creased lips hugged.

She nudged my shoulder for a response.

“Yes. My Dad made me study ALL weekend. I didn’t even get to play with my Transfor- um….transmission….on the tractor.”

“Me, too.” She said.

“You have a tractor?” Fucking fool.

Sarah rightfully questioned my intelligence. “No. Studied hard.”

Embarrassed, I slid my cherry flavored Fruit Roll-Up next to her sandwich – an act of contrition and juvenile bribery. When I noticed the chunk of mushed red sugar stuck in her smiling teeth I knew all had been forgiven.

Ѳ

The last class of the day, Social Studies – an immense waste of time and government money – ended early so that our grade could convene in the school library. We filed out of Mrs. Hanks’ room, a shrine to topography and Texas memorabilia, and down the long locker-less hallway.

“SSSSHHHHH!” Hanks demanded silence. Her face flushed and the veins in her saggy neck bulged when she did this. “No talking!” It was very easy to acquire a collection of frowny faces under your name in her class. Giggling, not paying attention, asking a question without raising your hand, not having a pencil, crying because your dog died, not hiding the bruises your drunk dad gifted you thereby making the other kids jealous and rowdy, failing to report the latest stock trend, etc. Oh sure, Mrs. Hanks pushed us hard, even killed one student doing it, but her efforts resulted in all of us getting full scholarships to ivy league colleges and that’s a lie.

Pooling into the cramped library, we leaned against card catalogues (remember those?) and tall wooden shelves full of state-approved reading material. Mr. Eubanks, our principal, a large man resembling Abe Vigoda, commanded our undivided attention.

“I need your undivided attention.”

Told ya.

“This is the fourth grade spelling bee competition,” his deep voice pointed out the obvious. “You will line up in four rows arranged by your homeroom teachers. Ms. Lawson will ask you a word. You will spell that word. If you are correct, return to the back of line one. If you are incorrect, you are disqualified and must sit over there.” He pointed to the long blank wall in the back. “Good luck.”

Ms. Lawson – the first of many infatuations I would have with older women – put my nerves at ease. She liked me. I never misbehaved in her English class, made straight A’s, and followed her every move like an airport security camera “randomly” tracking Abdul Imma Bohmmer wearing a turban and sporting a sweet beard. I’d spell any word she wanted . . . naked.

I fell somewhere in the back of line two, flanked by rows of Dewy Decimal-labeled hardbacks. Not one to pass up opportunity I began reading book spines to brush up on my vocabulary. But my focus shattered when I heard my future wife ask the first kid,

“Extraordinary.” Ms. Lawson, though kind and sultry, remained expressionless as she dropped the axe. She knew that was a brutal word to open the games with.

The kid, I think it was Joe My-Parents-Have-Sex-With-The-Door-Open Cletus, jumped head first into his shallow pool of knowledge with “X (pause) . . . um . . . X (longer pause) . . . uh . . . mmm . . . X”. In his attempt to search for the correct letters, Joe inadvertently named his dad’s favorite store.

“I’m sorry, Joe. That’s not the correct spelling.” Ms. Lawson explained with a conciliatory frown.

Surely the next word would be easier.

“Manufacture.” She said to Trisha.

Fail.

“Calculate.”

Fail.

“Destructive.”

Fail.

My buddy, Scott, stepped up.

“Column,” Lawson asked him.

Not a difficult word if you can just remember the silent “N”.

“Oh, sorry, Scott. Column ends with an “n”.

Had she asked him “damn” he’d have been fine. Damn.

Students were picked off one by one and the Wall of Rejects rapidly gained new members. This didn’t bode well for me (or for the upcoming TABS test). Dread leeched through my skin permeating my mind with doubt. I watched helplessly as kid after kid was picked off by words with silent consonants and i’s before e’s, except after c’s. Few dodged bullets like “comb” and “whistle”. One girl began to sob the instant Ms. Lawson read her word aloud: crying. But I think that was merely coincidence.

Finally my turn arrived. I gazed into my lover’s eyes searching for a hint, a glimmer of hope. She looked down at her list. I looked down her shirt.

“Hi, William,” she smiled.

“Hi, Ms. Lawson,” I crooned, trying to appear confident behind a pair of thick glasses and double-striped knee-high tube socks.

Her head dropped as she returned her attention to the list. Unusual. She hadn’t done that with any other students. Perhaps she’d forgotten the word upon sight of the red Izod shirt hugging my fantastically chiseled chest. Perhaps it was my cologne – Playground Musk et du toilet with hints of Elmer’s and early puberty.

“Owl.”

The room came to a complete halt. Even Mr. Eubanks took notice and leaned forward in his seat.

“Owl?” I asked, not sure I’d heard her correctly.

“Yes. Owl.”

Corey, the first failure, threw his arms up with a “What the hell?”

“O – W – L. Owl.” I never broke eye contact with her.

“That’s correct. Good job.” She tipped her forehead to hide her amusement.

The walk to the back of the line left me wondering what just transpired. Owl? Really? The only three letter word so far. Was it a coincidence, or did Ms. Lawson give me that word on purpose? Did she want to even the playing field a little and let a boy win? Would I get to peek down her blouse again? Would Inspector Gadget be a rerun this afternoon? Could I poot then blame it on someone else? When will Sarah grow boobs? Are there really catfish in the Mississippi that grow as big as a horse? I should try practice holding my breath now so I’ll be better prepared for the pool this summer.

Ten minutes later . . .

“William, your word is paper,” followed by another knowing glance from Ms. Lawson.

Yep, I can see down her shirt. I riddled off the correct spelling with erect confidence. Another triumphant stroll to the back of Victory Lane. I might just win.

“Vast.”

Like my knowledge.

“Alert.”

I am.

“Police.”

Couldn’t drag me away.

“Circle.”

A symbol of our infinite love. And nipples.

“Spark.”

You mean the one in my eye? Yeah, baby, that’s for you.

I was unstoppable. More importantly, I was one of only three geniuses left. Jeff, Holly and I stood shoulder to shoulder, a modern triptych of human glory. The other failures worshipped us silently from the far wall. Autographs would be given later.

“Alright you three, congratulations for getting to the end.” Ms. Lawson rose from her chair to stand in front of us. “Now then, because this is the final stage, we have a new rule. I’ll give you the word and you must try to spell it. If you are incorrect, the next person gets to attempt the spelling. If he or she is right, you’re out. But if the third person can’t spell it correctly either, then we start over with a new word. Ready?”

This shit just got real.

(THE 3RD AND FINAL INSTALLMENT ……..TOMORROW)

 

 

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About Son

Unemployed, but trying.
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One Response to The Snellpig Bee – PART 2

  1. Wife says:

    FYI – those things you called “double side ponytails” are known as “PIG-tails.” A fitting moniker for any of your ex-girlfriends (who all pale in comparison to my radiance and awesomeness)!

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