Miscellany: Me and the Bee
When I was in elementary school, I was thisclose to winning the county spelling bee. I even remember the word I was eliminated on - "entourage." It's a bit embarrassing to lose on such an easy one, but you can't spell what you've never read, and back in the third grade I didn't follow the paparazzi-soaked world of celebrity like I do now.
Unlike a lot of contestants, I never really studied the dictionary or word lists extensively - that made it seem too much like schoolwork. You can get pretty far on just your innate vocabulary if you're a voracious reader, but the later rounds throw more and more obscure words at you, words that almost no one has ever heard of. This is odd, when you think of it - if the point of language is communication, what good is a word no one uses?
I'm still a decent speller, but even back in my competition days, I wouldn't have beaten this kid:
Although spelling bees are fun, I think they do very little to promote correct spelling, or even reading comprehension. I wish Scripps National promoted a contest that required something more than memorization, but I guess it wouldn't have the raw spectator appeal of these bees.