I was just asked how to spell styrofoam. I responded simply:


I think I expected applause.

It suddenly occurred to me that when someone asks me how to spell something, I suddenly go into this grade school spelling bee mode and I spell out each letter clearly and distinctly, as if I was facing a panel of five or six teachers that were hanging on each letter I blurted out. I then end the spelling by repeating the word I had just been asked to spell.

I don’t recall every being in a spelling bee in elementary school. I played a few tuba recitals and was the narrator of the elementary school production of “Jackie And The Beanstalk” (it was the 70s, it was weird) but a spelling bee? Not so much. I remember scoring a 100% on most every spelling test. Maybe I blocked out the bad parts.

Now that I think about it, I’m pretty definitely sure I wasn’t in a spelling bee. I remember an “enrichment fair”, where my table was devoted to UFO sightings and alien abduction incidents. I remember writing up a narrative about the Betty and Barney Hill abduction on ditto paper with my mother’s manual typewriter and printing off handouts to go along with the models of UFOs I made, based on descriptions from eyewitness accounts. I was the only one in my fourth grade class that was in “Enrichment”, which was the code word for the oddly-whispered “gifted program”. My mother thought I would be ostracized when I was the only one that left the classroom a couple of times a week for Enrichment. I guess the fact that I was already a one-man freak show was the reason I was in Enrichment in the first place. It was worth it. Besides, I got to see hunky Mr. Rayburn. I always liked him. I wanted to marry him but I knew I couldn’t do that back then. Heck, I couldn’t do it now if I wanted to either, come to think about it.

But a spelling bee? Nah. I never had a chance to be in one of those.