The Spelling Bee – FINALE

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“Holly? Your first word is . . . whether.”

I can spell that.

“Can you use that in a sentence please?” Holly asked.

I’d been unaware we could ask such clarifying questions. Apparently little miss Holly knows a thing or two about spelling bees. Double shit! Not only is it sudden death, but now we are faced with trick words, too?

“Jeff, your word is skeleton.”

No problem for my boy.

“William, ready?” Flirt alert! Flirt alert!

“Yes, Ms. Lawson. Ready.” The chemistry was palpable . . . and slightly illegal.


In. The. Bag.

“Holly, your next word is groceries.”

A few of the alphabetically challenge “oooo’d” from their exile. But the sonic snap of Mrs. Hanks’ finger and thumb quelled the fans’ participation.

We waited as Holly furrowed her brow in thought.

“Groceries . . . groceries . . . groceries” she repeated the word slowly, enunciating a different syllable each time.

I really needed her to hurry and fail so I could win. Some of the small, juice-filled bladders over in the peanut gallery were of the same mindset. At this rate we could be here all night . . . trapped in the library. And what if I needed to poop? I usually go when I get home! I can’t blowout the boys’ bathroom here, I’d be ridiculed, shunned to the far corner of the stacks. Soon the students would choose a leader and this leader would then plot a mutiny against the teachers. Ms. Lawson would need protection! Therefore, I shall take her as my wife and build us a shelter comprised of books and passion. In time, our sons, Hammer and Strafe, will rise and regain control over the lands, bringing peace and Nintendo to all that-

“Well done, Holly.” Ms. Lawson’s accolade back-slapped my mind to attention.

Dammit. She survived. Now I began to worry. Jeff, a formidable foe, a devoted friend, and a closet-homosexual, stood a very good chance of beating me. Pudgy, but wicked smart, the odds were stacked in his favor because he actually gave a shit – he needed to win. With nothing else going for him, his ticket out of Lancaster was his beautiful mind.

“Jeff, your word is . . . “

Don’t be easy! Don’t be easy!

“. . . encyclopedia.”



Wait, what?

“Encyclopedia?” Jeff asked, apparently as stunned as me.

Ms. Lawson – the sultry brunette with Main ‘n Tale infused waist-length hair whom will one day bear my children – repeated the very word NOT found on the list. Jeff harped on this immediately.

“That’s not on the list.” His face filled with tomatoes as he hated confrontation or anything that required assertiveness.

“No, but it is in your book, Jeff.” Mr. Lawson’s tone implied any further verbal vexes would be met with the same indomitable response.

The room became noticeably quieter as it was clear the end drew near. Like those of us who only watch the tie-breaking game of the NBA finals or World Series – we wait until things get good before we willingly devote three hours of our life to a bunch of overpaid men chasing and throwing balls (who then shower naked together in a big group as if it’s OKAY?). The cast-offs scooted along the floor towards the arena, a couple kids even crab-walked. Just as sharks are attracted to a wounded, flailing animal in the water, so too is a pack of fourth graders with numb asses who’ve been starved of stimuli for the last hour. There would be blood.

“Encyclopedia.” Jeff stared at the floor hoping to find a logarithmic pattern in the carpet’s speckled colors which would reveal the truth  . . . the hidden key to spelling “Encyclopedia”. He repeated the word piously, hoping baby Jesus might whisper the letters into his ear.

Meanwhile, I’m fighting the urge to fist-pump and dance the Charlie Brown in place. No fucking way Dad could have known this would have happened! No way! What are the odds he’d pick the one word . . . how could he know Ms. Lawson would . . . is he watching me right now? Is this a dream? Oh no . . . does this mean he knows I take all my clothes off to poop?

“Encyclopedia. E – N – C – ” Jeff spoke with his eyes closed.

Eat it!

“E – N – C – . . . I –“

“Wrong!” I shouted. Yes, I actually cried out “wrong” when my friend clothes-lined himself against the impenetrable word. I admit, totally awful thing to do. But I was 10 and impulsive. Thank god Jeff didn’t hear me though. At least I don’t think he did. Ms Lawson did, however; her stern look of disapproval stung. Nobody likes a spoiled sport.

“I’m sorry, Jeffery. That is not the correct spelling.” Ms. Lawson’s condolences were genuine. “Okay, William, same word.” She withheld eye contact as punishment.

Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip? (M&M) Would you be strong, make your father proud? Would you sing the proper spelling of a word . . . out loud?


I would.


I did.

“E – N – C (beat) Y – C – L (beat) O – P – E – D – I (awkward beat) – A. Encyclopedia.” I channeled my inner Mouseketeer for this. Flawless victory. I felt like Mario did after he rescued the Princess (and after he nut-landed on the castle flagpole).

I’m not sure if it was my buttery singing voice or that I spelled the unspellable, but either way it drew applause. From everyone.

“That is correct, William. Excellent.” Lawson reconnected with me. She yearned to leap into my arms basket-style and smother me with inappropriate kisses and cleavage hints.

Later, my love. There’s still time.

And then there were two. Contestants. Jeff sulked away leaving Holly and me to duel it out. Of course, at this point, with all the momentum in my favor – my fans, Ms. Lawson, all-knowing Dad – any chance Holly may have had at winning . . . gone. I tilted my head back to see the audience and absorb their praise. I even interpreted Eric’s nose-picking as code for “I pick you, William.” This was truly my time.

“Holly, your next word is ______.”

I didn’t hear it. Didn’t need to. With Sarah already writing my acceptance speech and Travis organizing the after party, my mind wondered to more important matters – namely, what Transformer could I swindle Mom to buy me.

I hear minor clapping. Hmm, appears Holly is still in the game. Time to shut this bitch down.

“Alright. William, your next word is [very easy].” She half rolled her eyes knowing I’d crush this word, just like I planned on crushing her –

“I – C – E – Y.”

Confidence nodded my head and stretched a stupid smile across my face. My dimples were compressed into miniature butts under all that muscular arrogance. But this time I heard no one cheering or clapping. No wine corks popping. No Lawson-boobies yanking their laced barriers away.

“William? Are you sure?” Lawson asked.

The single worst question anyone could pose a child – are you sure? “Do you need go to the bathroom? No? Are you sure?” Every child then pushes on his/her bladder testing urethral urgency and face the dreadful doom of their decision. Which is why we ALWAYS have to go ten minutes into the drive. A child with a panicked brain is incapable of logical thinking.

“Yes, ma’am.” It felt like admitting murder to a jury. Without legal counsel (a calm brain) to assist me, I just signed my own guilty plea. Guilty of hubris. Guilty of lust. Guilty of misspelling the easiest damn word on the list. And, so, down comes the axe:

“I’m sorry, William. That is incorrect. Holly, same wo–”

“I – C – Y. Icy! I win!”

You cankerous whore.

“Congratulations, Holly. You are our 1988 Spelling Bee champion.” Mr. Eubanks expended few calories to walk over to Holly and shake her hand. “As winner you can choose your prize.”

Prize? No one said anything about actual prizes. Money? Trophy? Interview with the Associated Press? Sound bite on the five o’clock news? Extra recesses? Free refills during lunch? What could it be?

Oh. Books. Well ain’t that some shit.

“You have the choice of any book on this table, Holly. William you will go next, then Jeffery.”

Not winning the bee, yeah, that sucked. Misspelling icy, twice the suckage. But realizing I’d busted my ass for a week only to “win” a lousy used library book? That’s some Prince-Albert-dick-piercing bullshit. Kids are not altruistic by nature. We don’t perform unless there’s a reward. And by reward I do mean something NOT book.

And as if the shame of losing over a simple word weren’t bad enough, now I’m forced to wait patiently, while feigning enthusiasm, for my turn at the used book pile of dreams. Horrific.

“Dude, you missed icy? That’s the easiest word. Hah hah!” Phillip felt it necessary to taunt.

“You were the second person eliminated. At least I made it to the end.” I countered.

“Yeah, but you still missed icy. Idiot.”

Don’t worry, Reader. Phillip would suffer a severe facial wound the following week during art class. True story – being as intelligent as he was, Phillip wanted to play swords with a pair of long handled shears. His second mistake: sparing against Trip. Forty-nine stitches later, Phillip returned to school. He had to chew his food with his head tilted horizontally to the opposite side during lunch. I considered asking him to spell “icy”, but the doctor ordered him not speak for a week for fear he’d split his cheek open again.

After Holly made her choice, I quickly selected one I thought would have the most pictures and not be embarrassing to tote back down the hall. I picked up The Wreck of the Zephyr by Chris Van Allsburg. That’s not ironic. Now I can’t WAIT to disappoint Dad.


7pm that evening went like this:

DAD:      Hey, son! How’d the spelling bee go? Did we win?

ME:        No.

DAD:      Oh. Well, how’d you do?

(Notice it went from “we” to “you”.)

ME:        I placed second. Here. (I hand him my “new” book)

DAD:      Second? Son, that’s great! You got second place out of the entire class? Lindsay, did you hear that he got second place? (He gives me a big hug.) So, tell me tell me . . . did they ask?

ME:        Yes.

DAD:      Oooooo! (His boxers winced in fear of excitable father pee.) And? And? Did my trick work?

ME:        Yes.

DAD:      Woohoo! I knew it would. (He squeezes my trapezius muscle between his thumb and index finger as the thrill courses through him. I nearly collapse from the Spockian grip.) Aren’t you glad I told you about it?

ME:        Ouch, yes. (I manage to wriggle from his clutches.) Jeff missed it first, then it came to me.

DAD:      Jeff? You mean Jeff lost? (His eyes grew wide with satisfaction.)

ME:        He didn’t lose. No one lost really. You just got eliminated if you messed up.

DAD:      He misspelled encyclopedia didn’t he? And you spelled it correctly. So he lost. Yea!

ME:        But I didn’t win either.

DAD:      Nonsense. (Said seriously) What word finally did you in? Must have been one we missed.

ME:        Icy.

DAD:      Come again?

ME:        (Sighing) Icy.

DAD:      You’re joking. (He half laughed.)

ME:        (I just shook my head.)

DAD:      You misspelled icy?

ME:        (Nodding)

DAD:      Son, really?

ME:        (same)

DAD:      And you still placed second?

ME:        Yes? But Dad-

DAD:      Icy, son? Wow.

I could smell disappointment seeping through his skin. I’d let him down with all that hard work. He was counting on me and I blew it. I wanted to hug him and beg for forgiveness, say I’m sorry, but he kept his standard, uninviting Peter Pan pose. For him to be highly intelligent, but cursed with an imbecile for a child, I can’t imagine how challenged he felt.

DAD:      I – C – E – Y. How is that difficult to spell?


Hmm, challenged. Very . . . ehem . . . challenged.

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About Son

Unemployed, but trying.
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2 Responses to The Spelling Bee – FINALE

  1. Suzanna says:

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    too, just search in google – slabs roulette system

  2. Sis says:


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