Friday evening found the new Taylor Student Lounge packed with students participating in Alpha Sigma Alpha’s Spelling Bee fundraiser for the S. June Smith Center. In the interest of truly understanding the terror, panic and triumph of the champion speller, I decided to embed myself within a team and participate myself. Each team had three members who took turns attempting to spell words in flights. If someone could not spell a word, they had a lifeline and could pass the word to a teammate. If that person did not spell the word correctly, however, the original speller was still eliminated.
I was psyched for my team to win as the prizes were tinfoil “Flav-A-Flav” bling necklaces filled with candy for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners and chocolate bunnies for their teammates. Alas, it was not to be. By far the vast majority of contestants went out on their first round, including myself.
It was high drama. Each contestant went on stage and stood at the mic, waiting for their word. They could request its pronunciation, definition and that it be used in a sentence, but once they had heard the answer they had 15 seconds to begin spelling the word. Frequently the response to hearing one’s word was simply a look of horror and a slight crumpling of the body in the face of diabolical verbiage.
That said, I was pumped when it was my turn to spell. Thus far, there had been mostly either fairly common words, or words of good Latin, Greek or Anglo-Saxon origin, which I felt I could handle. My locution, though, was none of these things. Instead, I received the brutality of the word gods in the form of the word “dachshund,” and I tripped up on the “sh,” using only an “s” instead. I do not think I will ever be able to look kindly upon a dachshund again.
That was the beginning and end of my outing in the Spelling Bee. One of my teammates continued for several more rounds, but he also eventually dropped out, though the chocolate bunnies and bling were certainly within sight. Next year, be sure to sign up for the Spelling Bee, but make sure to brush up on your German.