Mar 13, 2012 -- 2:42pm



How do you remember your spelling bee?  One word and out? Two words and out?  Three and out?....or did you put a bit of effort into preparation and last longer, maybe winning your local bee?  In the next round, one and out?....two and out?....three and out?....or did you last a bit longer and maybe win the district.....paving the way for the spelling bee championship in your county?  The bee I competed in happened so long ago that most of the words in today's dictionary hadn't been invented back then....yet, I still recall one word that stumped most of my class and by the time the word came to me, I was ready....p....l.....a....t...e...a...u.  I've never forgotten the spelling of plateau, not that I'd have to use the word as in....I was driving to work this morning, and decided to take a left instead of a right turn and drove on a plateau until I found a gas station and thought about asking for directions, but instead I just filled my tank and went back on the road. 

The spelling bee to top all spelling bees or as the NORTHWEST HERALD called it, the Spelling Spectacular, played out at McHenry County College for the 2012 McHenry County Spelling Bee Championship and I played a role in the competition. No, your first guess is wrong, I didn't spell the words.....I ....was actually the pronouncer, a position I'd held without much fanfare some years earlier....and kind of vowed not to do it again because of the pressure of having to say the words perfectly or face the prospect of a parent coming down on me. But the opportunity presented itself with the NORTHWEST HERALD asking me to return to the college and again pronounce the words for the students, and how could I turn down the students?   

So I found myself, not literally but figuratively in the conference center at the college pronouncing words over and over....29 rounds of words....and only two of the original twelve great young spellers were left standing.....and I thought we'd go all night, round after round...and then what will forever make people remember this spelling bee....I mispronounced a word.....calling it on first glance infintesimal ... the student speller, soon to become the champion for a second year in a row Lucas Urbanski asked me whether I meant infinitesimal ...and I looked at the judges in a slight panic.....and they pointed to the 6th grader ....so I figured he was right and I repeated the word as he said it.  Wow.  If anything were to drop my confidence level..I'd just found it, a sixth grade boy telling a professional radio person  how to pronounce a word...and then on top...he spelled it right.   I can't even spell it right...as you probably noticed in this article.  The 2012 Spelling Bee will for always be known as the Infinitesimal Bee.  No don't ask for a sentence or the word origin.....I'm going back to emceeing things like the county queen pageant where I worry only about goofing up the order of finish...you know, announcing the  the fifth place finisher as the queen and making the queen the fifth place finisher.  Well, I have stepped on a few pageant gowns too!

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