A whopping 17 years ago, when I was in the 6th grade*, I won the school spelling bee. Hundreds of grade-schoolers stood and clapped with glee, probably because it freed them from watching a bunch of smart kids sweating about words.
Nick Nowak misspelled “kerchief”, opening the door for me to put him out of his misery with the correct spelling of “appetizer”. It was exhilarating – the kind of public affirmation I wouldn’t receive again until screening my crappy projects in film school.
I didn’t qualify for the county bee, by the way, because Laurence Fishburne never showed up to teach me about the etymology necessary to spell at a higher level. I was left trying to memorize every long word I could find.
*In case you were wondering, the greatest fear for a 6th grade boy is an ill-timed erection. There is little-to-no control or warning, and, in the days of Umbro shorts, nothing to conceal it.