A few years back there were two events that brought the world of Spelling Bees to the forefront of my mind. One year, the winner of the National Spelling Bee wanted to visit the Mall of America and the movie “Akeelah and the Bee” was released. Suddenly, people everywhere were touting their spelling abilities. I remained silent. (And I’m rarely silent on any subject.) But it is a subject on which I rarely speak – my inability to take part in any spelling bees since leaving the third grade. You see, I am a horrid speller. Sigh.
There was a time when the majority of my life was either spent teaching young minds or preparing to teach those young minds. You can imagine the challenges involved in said profession if one is not necessarily a good speller. And in all fairness, I’m not so much a terrible speller as I am a terrible performer. (Yes, I do realize that as a professed comedian, that puts me in the performance category, but be patient already!) I spell rather poorly when other people are going to notice if I do or do not spell well.
Some examples of what this, ahem, problem means for me:
1. I tried to rarely actually write in front of students. There are a multitude of issues that writing in front of students can bring about. Namely this little refrain, “But I thought you were an English teacher!!!” To which I would be forced to respond, “Yes, but I’m not a SPELLING teacher!” With red cheeks.
1a. I also attempted to limit the number of “writing in front of students” opportunities because of some other logistics that my little spelling issue just exacerbated. Namely, I’m only 5’2″. In order to write towards the top of the chalk board, I had to stand on a chair. Always a good visual aid to incorporate if you are going for that “please see me as an adult and don’t pat me on the head” look.
1b. Writing on the chalkboard (or whiteboard for modern classrooms) means turning your back to the students. Some teachers might worry about being pegged with spitballs or such agents of torture. Not me. I’m pretty sure students knew better than to try such shenanigans. No, what worried me was the fear of panty lines. Trust me, there are a few things that female teachers never want to have before a roomful of teenagers and panty lines and noticeable nipples are two of them.
2. In case you don’t quite have a handle on just how difficult the bad speller subject is for me, image the horror that this little debacle caused me. Several years ago, I was selected to be a subject model in a educational series on teaching literature. As in “lights, camera, action,” wear a mic, go to wardrobe and make-up, the whole nine yards. So there I am, in a rented classroom with rented students, yammering on about some short story I’d never seen before having a microphone battery pack shoved down the back of my pants and suddenly I hear, “CUT!”
And a loud, almost God-like disembodied voice calls out, “she just spelled the word wrong. People, fix that and let’s try that again.”
Can you imagine how well the rest of the shoot went for me? I’m pretty sure we had to break for a few minutes while I walked outside in the -15 degree Minnesotan winter day so as to allow the burning fire in my face to abate.
So what brought up all this angst anyway, you wonder? Well, I tweeted “bouy” rather than “buoy” and my little iPhone, which often corrects things that don’t need correcting, didn’t offer me any indication that my spelling disabilities had reared its ugly little head.
Thanks spellchecker. You constantly change “thing” to “thong” but you couldn’t change “bouy” to “buoy”? You are such a prankster!