The cruel vicissitudes of the spelling bee

Published 9:25 pm Saturday, February 10, 2018

Somewhere along my life’s journey, I have, apparently, picked up a lot of useless skills, facts and information.

One of those things is knowing how to spell, a skill learned in the days before spellcheck and rendered useless by its advent. But even I was unsure about a lot of the words that other teams got during the Suffolk Education Foundation’s Grown Up Spelling Bee on Saturday.

“Languorous” tripped up quite a few teams on stage during the first round, and the Typographical Airers were sitting quietly, trying not to draw attention to ourselves, in desperate hope that nobody would use the lifeline they had purchased to “sting” us with the word. I have to admit, I was relieved when one of the teams finally used a fly-over lifeline, and the word disappeared forever.

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We also had no idea how to spell “muktuk,” “dirndl,” “gauche” or “phreatic.” Just like we had no idea how to spell “banausic” during the 2016 Bee, which ultimately was our downfall.

But the luck of the draw was on our side this time, and we didn’t get any of those terrible words. Instead, we got common, decent words like “accrual,” “magnanimous,” “connoisseur,” “lugubrious,” “narcissism,” “claustrophobia,” “baccalaureate,” “streptococcus” and “lackadaisical.” You know, stuff that it’s possible to spell without the benefit of Google.

We loved winning, but we love participating in the Grown Up Spelling Bee even more. As the Queen Bee sponsor, the Suffolk News-Herald is very proud to help support the professional development for teachers, student scholarships and classroom grants that the Suffolk Education Foundation provides. And we’re especially glad to do it in such a fun way that means bragging rights for the next year — and a cool-looking trophy in our office.

We’re already looking forward to defending our title next year. Who’s up for the challenge?