Did you know I was in a spelling bee in 5th grade? It’s true. Made it into the top 10.
My school district’s layout put all the 5th and 6th graders together on the same campus. There were two spelling bees, one for 5th grade and one for 6th. I made top score at the homeroom level, and represented homeroom in the 5th grade competition. We assembled in the gym, the biggest meeting space in the school, and one by one we all stood at the podium. The moderator would tell us the word, then we would say the word, spell it, and say it again. The moderator would then give us the judgment.
After going through round after round, I get within the top 10. I’m excited and nervous. My turn again. Moderator tells me a word. I say the word, spell the word, say the word again. The moderator then gets a shocked and dumbfounded look on her face. Eyes wide and jaw dropped in disbelief. Tells me the word was actually a different word than what I spelled. I completely misunderstood. Correctly spelled the wrong word. The hot needles sunk into my skin as I looked up at the bleachers full of my classmates. I walked off the riser, collapsed into the chairs along the wall, and sank my head into my palms.
This set up the rhythm of my life. An allegory. “Almost, but not quite.”