Nobody likes a smarta**.After
rereading one of my old stories (first published on 7Nov2003 by Opium
Magazine and reproduced below),
I dug this eMail exchange out of the archives:
Mon, 15 Nov 1999 06:59
From: Alan C. Baird
it my imagination, or does your dictionary contain a misspelling
Mon, 22 Nov 1999 16:02
From: Maria Sansalone, Merriam-Webster Editorial
To: Alan C. Baird
You know what's even worse Alan? It's been in our
print dictionary this way since at least 1981!
Buzz Words [estimated reading time: 1:45]
At the ripe old age of thirteen,
Buzz earned a trip to the 1964 National
Spelling Bee, after winning a series of local competitions. However, he bombed out on the second
word ("abbot") because his school bus stopped at Abbott Street every day. Even though his left
brain knew the proper spelling decreed by Merriam-Webster's dictionary, his stubborn right brain
insisted on calling up images of that treacherous street sign, standing a mere two feet outside the
safety-glass bus window.
So our vanquished hero spent the remainder of the competition sitting
in the audience, writing down every word and torturing himself with dreams of What Might Have Been.
He'd even worked out a complex algorithm to predict which words would have been "his," and spelled
each one of them correctly: "vicissitude," "diastema," and especially the dreaded "myxovirus." By his
reckoning, he should have won the whole shootin' match . . . but Abbott Street
had wrecked his budding career as WordBoy.
The next year, he entered local history books by
becoming the first area youngster to win two Washington trips in a row. This time, he was relaxed,
joking with fellow contestants while finishing 14th in the country, stumped only by "gneiss." He
deemed the word to be an honorable Waterloo, even though it didn't sound that way (pronounced "nice").
But most importantly, he was delighted with his 1965 results, the trip, and life in general.
Every few years, the regional newspaper still publishes a huge picture of him during the spring,
in their annual Spelling Season Shrine.
Could he have won the national competition in that
first year? Maybe. But if he'd survived 1964's second round, the same words would have been
doled out to different contestants, during later rounds. Words that were spelled easily, in his
"abbott" universe, might have been misspelled, in the alternative "abbot" scheme of things. For
example, his fancy algorithm couldn't really predict if little Susie would be able to deal with
"escharotic" in AbbotWorld, when she was only required to spell "escapist" in AbbottWorld. Thus,
Buzz's subsequent word list would end up slightly altered--which means he certainly *didn't*
know it all.
Although he often acted that way.
Still does, as his friends will
eagerly tell you.
However, sweet revenge was exacted from his old nemesis
(Merriam-Webster) during the late fall of 1999, when he pointed out "pointtillist" . . .
a misspelling which had appeared in their dictionaries for nearly two decades.
you might guess, he's still bragging about that.
June, 1964: Dad/Mom/Nerd/Rep. Brad Morse (R-MA)/Flag.
The Lowell Sun (MA) newspaper used to sponsor an annual spelling competition among the local
For a couple of years in the mid-Sixties, I hogged the competition limelight.
The Sun wasted a ton of ink on me, and sent me to the National Spelling Bee
in Washington, DC. Twice.
They bought me clothes, gave me cash, flew Mom and me to DC,
and put us up in a 5-star hotel for a week.
They really made me feel like a Big-Shot
While I was in Our Nation's Capital, I just wanted to study. What a nerd.
But the National Spelling Bee organization had set up a bunch of tours for us nerds.
And the Sun's DC correspondent had the thankless task of following me around, snapping pictures
and writing puff pieces.
A staggering number of those pictures and puff pieces were published
on the Sun's front page.
So I guess the local congressman got wind of a possible photo op,
and decided to horn in.
But he was also kind enough to give me a tour and introduce me
to many famous lawmakers.
He even pulled some strings and got the Architect of the Capitol to
send me that flag.
He really made me feel like a Big-Shot Celebrity.
Then Mister Big-Shot
Celebrity started competing in the National Spelling Bee, and fell flat on his face...
Facebook fan pages: 1964 ~ 1965
Facebook group: National
Spelling Bee Contestants, 1964 & 1965
URL of this page: http://9TimeZones.com/nsb.htm