Monday, January 28, 2013

It's More Fun to Win. W-I-N. Win.

Want to know why I wrote the post I wrote on Friday? The one about my plans to compete in a  spelling bee? It's because I was afraid I would chicken out.

I was astonishingly nervous about this tiny little local competition in which I would get to do something I'm GOOD AT and that I ENJOY, so to help me ignore the fact that my heart rate sped up every time I thought about actually competing, I told the entire internet I had signed up. Can't chicken out of that one, Ms. McOversharer!

Then I spent the day coming up with legitimate excuses to not participate--I was tired from trustee meetings. My head was aching--was I coming down with a bug? But because I told you all I would be in the bee, I showed up at the coffee shop early enough to get REALLY shaky-handed.

By the time the actual bee started, I had lowered my goal from winning to just not being the first one out, because if I were the first one out it would mean I had lost to the second grader sitting behind me. Also, it would mean I had misspelled the word "cupcake," which was my first round word.

As it turns out, all those things I had told the Boys before their grade school spelling bees were actually true.

Spelling bees are essentially crapshoots: I would have misspelled the word that the lady next to me went out on, and would have spelled it exactly as she did, but because fate brought it to her instead of to me I stayed in and she heard the ominous "That is incorrect."

What comes out of your mouth is not always what is in your brain: The guy sitting down the row from me is a college professor, and has his Ph.D. in chemistry. He absolutely knows how to spell the word "tympanum" and will go to his grave believing he spelled it right. What came out of his mouth, though, was "t-y-p-a-n-u-m."

Being in the audience is not exactly a slab of chocolate cake, either: "It was just like being back at Small Town Grade School," Husband told me later. "You really hope the other people get the hard words." (Why, yes, the competitive spirit of our Boys comes from both tributaries to their gene pool.)

When we got back in the car to go home after the meet, I punched Husband in the shoulder of his padded coat. I had to confess what I had been denying to everyone, including myself, all day.

"I really wanted to win," I told him.

A gift certificate to the coffee shop. MUCH better than a trophy.
And I did! So thank you, Empty Nest readers, for not letting me chicken out.