When I was in sixth grade, I won my class spelling bee, and also beat every other classroom winner in the school. I went on to compete in the district, where I lost out on first place by one word. ONE WORD. I'll never forget the two words I blew: tariff and magnate. They told me I'd step in for the winner if he/she couldn't make it for some reason. Of course, I never got that phone call. It was the saddest day of my life.
Ever since then, I've been trying to live vicariously through the winners of each year's Scripps Spelling Bee. I even borrowed that documentary on the Bee from the library, crying into my pillow, "That could've been me!" My goal is to train my kids to enter the Bee someday. They will be spelling "etymology" before they begin to teethe. I will take them to DC and they will get to shake the hand of that guy with the glasses who reads all the words, if he's still around. They will meet all the Indian kids and learn to spell their names, backwards, as this will surely psych them all out, not to mention give my kids the boost of confidence they need to win the Bee.
Until that glorious day, I will settle for watching the Bee on television.
(Pictured: A contestant in this year's Bee. That could've been me! High-waisted pants and all.)