Posts Tagged “Catherine Wagner”

Spelling Bee

05.30.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

When I was a schoolboy I competed in the National Spelling Bee, and got to represent New York State in the finals in Washington DC. Wow, that was a thrill, but the trauma of losing—well, I came in 9th—has stayed with me for many years and I would never go to see Spellbound or any of the movies or books that have focused on the sport. I was still in shock I think! And this from an event that occurred when LBJ was president and the Vietnam war was still on. Whenever I would stumble across the word I spelled wrong, say in a book or whatever, I would break out in a cold sweat and my face would grow red like a wound. (The word was “eponym.” There! I’ve said it!)

Thus when three years ago, Laura Moriarty of Small Press Distribution in Berkeley called me and asked me to participate in a charity spelling bee, I hung up on her. When she called back, I had to query myself, is this fate, or am I getting a second chance at therapy, by reliving the awful sequence of shame, and now with my... More