Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You Don't Have to be in 8th Grade to be in a Spelling Bee

There aren't many places like New York where you can just step outside your building door and find a hundred things to do at a moment's notice. Portland is no exception. It's one of those places, like many others across the United States, where there just isn't a ton to do after the sun goes down. Instead, in Portland restaurants close between 9pm and 10pm and there aren't a lot of cultural events that run late into the night. This was a bit of culture shock for me. Then I realized that people get off work at 5 and it's not uncommon to be in for the evening at around 10pm. Yes, it's not the same as people getting off work at 7pm and starting to think about dinner at 9pm. Here people make their own fun and I experienced one of those evenings recently.

We had a Spelling Bee at a local bar. We got the back room, gathered a group of friends, and had a Spelling Bee master who had a list of approved 8th grade Spelling Bee words. Oh, and he threw in a few racy words just for fun. The crowd was a fun group and many folks signed up to participate in the Spelling Bee. One person even came wearing a "Mispelling" sash. Classic. The Spelling Bee began simply enough with each contestant spelling a word. We had three rounds of spelling to decide the finalists for the next round. I'm happy to say I made it through that round without a misspelled word. The next round, the words got a bit harder and I was quickly taken out on "cumulative." Apparently, it's not spelled with two m's.

As the night went on, the contestants were narrowed down to just three and I might add that they were all women. In this group, men were not destined to be Spelling Bee champs and that's ok. Once we got narrowed down to the last three contestants the words did get harder and then the rules changed. See, people in Portland like to mix it up. In this final round a word would be selected and it was up to the crowd to choose who should spell it. Things got interesting and we were all impressed with how well the contestants could spell. In the end, the winner of the Spelling Bee was someone who had won a Spelling Bee as a child. I guess some skills stay with you.

The moral of the story: "You don't have to be in 8th Grade to be in a Spelling Bee, but you should be able to spell like one."

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