I was a timid student. I didn’t volunteer to answer questions in class. I hated standing up front to give oral book reports, the object of everyone’s attention. I preferred silent written tests. My shyness persisted to upper elementary. In the eighth grade, my teachers recognized my expanded vocabulary and A+ spelling abilities and pushed me to enter the school Spelling Bee.
My confidence climbed as other students dropped one by one, downed by misspelled words. At last, a single student stood on the stage between me and the winner’s applause. The audience stared at me as the final word was given—a complex word beyond my vocabulary. I rolled it through my mind wishing it were an Agate marble or a Steelie ready for the strike. I spelled it wrong! The winner, who later admitted he had no idea how to spell the word, reversed two letters and became the winner. I slinked out, too embarrassed to face anyone.
I’ve tossed my printed dictionary. My spelling ability hugs me like a warm winter blanket. When my assistant, Ms. Spellchecker, tries to defeat me with a red underline word like “Steelie,” I go online to prove that I’m the hands-down winner in this spelling contest.