As the Village Turns 

Spelling best left to the X-purts

click to enlarge Rich Tosches: Spellchecks worst nightmare. - KATHY CONARRO
  • Kathy Conarro
  • Rich Tosches: Spellchecks worst nightmare.

I don't want to brag, but in elementary school in the little hamlet of Hopedale, Mass., I was the third-grade spelling bee champion (Small Word Division) two years in a row.

And I would have been the three-time champ except they finally moved me to the fourth grade despite an evaluation that said I was "quite disruptive," "clearly not ready in either academic or social areas" and that my future likely involved "some type of government work."

My main problem areas were science and math. Geometry nearly killed me. To this day, for example, when I'm watching National Geographic on TV and they show a massive animal wallowing in the mud at a watering hole in Africa I invariably shout, "Oohhhh, it's a hypotenuse!!"

But oh, how I kood spell!

Which brings me to last Saturday's 65th annual Colorado Spelling Bee in Denver, which was won by a 12-year-old home-schooled boy from Franktown.

Footnote: From a social development standpoint I don't know whether home-schooling is a good idea or not and will leave that discussion to the so-called "X-purts." But it is worth noting that the home-schooler breezed through words such as "lonely" and "isolated" but in the third round he looked puzzled and had to ask a judge to use the word "friend" in a sentence.

Praising their hard-workiness

Anyway, by winning the Colorado competito ... comppitition ... uh, bee, Josiah Hamill now moves on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. As part of that event, President George Bush will greet the state winners by delivering a four-minute speech praising them for their "intelligenicism" and "hard-workiness."

Saturday's competition was sponsored by the Rocky Mountain News. (Our own village's daily newspaper also sponsors a spelling bee. This week's winner was sports columnist Milo Bryant, who turned in 17 different spellings of the word "hockey.")

The Colorado bee began with 263 students from grades five through eight taking a 50-word written test. The top 35 advanced to the oral section of the bee, with their parents sitting quietly in the audience -- the silence broken only by the constant pop of the lids on Mommy's and Daddy's Prozac bottles.

Soon, the field was narrowed to just nine spellers. No children from the Colorado Springs area advanced to the final nine, mostly because the words "evangelical" and "homophobia" were not on the list.

Words that were on the list included:

Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

Flatulence (n.), an emergency medical vehicle that picks you up after you've been run over by a steamroller.

Circumvent (n.), the opening at the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

OK, none of those words were actually part of the Colorado spelling bee. I just used them for laughitudinal purposes, and I vow that from now on I will only present words that were actually used in the Colorado spelling bee, words such as "funipendulous" (swinging a clown back and forth by his heels).

See: Dick Clark

Of the final nine kids in the bee, Jake Smith of Highlands Ranch was the first to be eliminated. He'd stayed alive by correctly spelling the actual word "colcannon" (a common sexual problem among male Eskimos), but was eliminated on the actual word "teratology" (the study of ripped clothing).

Next to go was Patrick Renegar of Aurora, who missed the word "sukiyaki" (a Japanese woman who won't stop talking). Then it was Katie Senn of Pueblo, who stayed in the competition on the word "mnemonically" (a mathematics term; a sequence of mnumbers), but was eliminated on "proscenium" (a prostate gland celebrating its 1,000th anniversary; see: Dick Clark).

Lauren Thuringer of Centennial stayed in the hunt by spelling "galahad" (common boast of sexual conquest by young Southern men; "That Debbie Lou, now there's a galahad"), but was eliminated on the word "perimysium" (two mysiums).

The field was cut to four when Laura Schultz, also of Centennial, missed the word "anastomosis" (getting your toe stuck in a bird's nest). That came after she'd correctly spelled "cargador" (the part of the car you've just closed on your hand; "I just ... my thumb ... slammed the ... cargador ... son of a $%^&*").

Sara Parsons of Golden stayed in the bee by spelling "ayuntamiento" (a young tomato) but was ousted by the word "alstroemeria" (becoming hysterical while inside the Houston Astrodome). Gabriel D'Silva of Loveland was eliminated by the word "decorticate" (fornicating with your decorator), after he'd stayed in the competition by correctly spelling "mandir" (a male deer; the one that mates with the girldir).

Getting the wrinkles out

Denver's Zach Cantor was now the only contestant left to challenge eventual winner Hamill. Cantor put the pressure on by spelling the word "masseuse" (a person who gave Dr. Seuss a backrub while in a church).

For 45 minutes Cantor and Hamill battled, correctly spelling such words as "querimonious" (a peaceful ceremony involving gay people playing harmonicas) and "prestidigitator" (a person who irons the wrinkles out of an alligator).

But Cantor then mispell ... misspele ... screwed up the word "fritillary" (the small room in a library where you're allowed to eat fruit), leaving the door open for Hamill, who got the word "stupefacient" (having a stupid look on your face).

And he knailed it.

-- richt@csindy.com

-- Listen to Rich Tosches Thursday mornings on the "Coffey and Alisha Show" on KVUU-FM, 99.9.


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