I was once a district spelling bee champion. I first competed in the district contest when I was in the fourth grade, and got stymied by the word "avocado." In seventh grade, I was ousted by a classmate in our school's run-off, so served as our team's alternate in the district competition. But in eighth grade, after a tumultuous series of rounds on stage in front of my Cherry Creek School District peers, I won a trophy and a place at the state competition.
My ability to correctly form letters into words has rendered itself mostly useless, thanks to things like auto-correct and the squiggly red line in Microsoft Office products. But I secretly enjoy any situation in which I can prove I am a freak for remembering how to spell things like "sycophant" and "syzygy," even if I can't actually use the words in a sentence.
So though Interstate Kitchen & Bar had already won me over when I ate there for last week's review, I couldn't resist dropping by the Rock 'N' Roll Spelling Bee, which the restaurant holds at 10 p.m. every Monday night.
I stopped by last night to check out the competition and face down Westword's copy editor and proofreader, who've won, like, five times in a row. The bar was packed with rowdy spellers, sipping $1.50 Lone Stars and sharpening No. 2 pencils.
The Rock 'N' Roll Spelling Bee is a written contest. Bartender and proctor Kevin Galaba reads ten words -- using them in a sentence or defining them on request -- and then takes a break before reading ten more. He gives extra credit for penmanship and pictures. And then he scores the tests while local Denver bands provide live music. It's a very lively way to spend a Monday evening, whether you have a penchant for intense competition or not (and whether you can spell or not).
But I was in it to win it (albeit anonymously), and all went well until the final word: "onomatopoeia." I spelled it right just now, thanks to that squiggly red line. But there is no squiggly red line in the game of life, and this is where the proofreader and the copy editor separated themselves from the former middle-school spelling champ, closing out their list with twenty correctly spelled words to my nineteen.
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In the end, it didn't matter. Another girl spelled all twenty words right AND listed the most Denver streets that start with the letter "W," ousting all Westword staffers for the win.
I will bring my A game next time. And kind of like "avocado," I'll never again forget how to spell "onomatopoeia."