Sunday, April 10, 2011

Went with the family this afternoon to go see a community theater production of the musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee".

I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but spelling bees are undeniably good theater.  Plus, I still have vivid memories of my one spelling bee effort in 6th grade.  I won our classroom bee (in a rather controversial contest) and was sent to the school-wide bee.  I failed on the word "debrief" in the very first round, forgetting the classic  "i before e" rule.

I'm pretty good about that rule now.

Anyway, we arrived at the theater this afternoon and picked up our tickets.  As I stepped away from Will Call, a woman approached me with a clip board and asked if I would be willing to help out with the production. They needed one more male volunteer to be part of the show as one of the spelling bee participants.  I  agreed and Daisy jumped and and down with excitement.

The woman gave me a short biographical form to fill out and said that they'd call me down from the audience during the first act.  Maybe I'd get asked to spell hard words or maybe easy ones, but all I really need to remember, she explained, was to make sure to ask for the definition of the word and for the judges to use the word in a sentence.  If I could remember that, the rest would work out.

This was it.  Spelling Bee 2.0!  We took our seats and waited for the show to begin.

Sure enough, a few minutes into the show, the spelling bee administrator called down 4 "extra" participants, including yours truly.  I hopped down to the stage and took my assigned position.  I then spent the next few minutes on stage sucking at being an extra.  I sat when I was supposed to stand, I was the only person on stage to clap at the end of each musical number, and I'm pretty sure I was grinning like an idiot.

Soon, however, I was asked to stand up and spell a word that sounded something like.... ottotansoarist

I blinked uncomprehendingly, not quite being able to make sense of the syllables.

"Uh, may I have the definition please?" I asked, mentally patting myself on the back for remembering this part.

"It refers to one who cuts their own hair," the actor playing the vice principal answered.

"Ummm, can you use the word in a sentence?" I queried, not really listening to anything they said.

The vice principal made some joke about how the people who got their hair cut in Sweeney Todd wished that they were ottotansoarists.

"Okayyy...." I said, stalling, "that's ottotansoarist?"

"OttotonsorIAList" he replied, carefully enunciating the syllables.

I began.

"O T T O..."

At this point I heard someone bust up in laughter that sounded suspiciously familiar.  I stole a glance at the audience and saw Hank cracking up.  I instantly realized my idiotic error.

"No!" I yelled, "It's A-U-T-O...T O N ...S O R... I...A....LIST!"

Too late, of course, and they rang the bell, and launched into song to send me back to my audience seat. I was, however, handed a complimentary juicebox.

Turns out, there are roughly zero words in English that begin with "OTTO" (excluding proper nouns).  However, how many words start with "AUTO" and refer to doing something yourself?  Um, that would be hundreds.  Nice work, Mike.

Jesusbeekeepingchrist!  I'm 0 for 2 at spelling bees!  And not much better at musicals!

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