On Thursday, February 16 at the Handlebar in Greenville, S.C., Camp Opportunity (a camp that offers abused and/or neglected children a respite from the storms in their lives) is hosting a Spelling Bee! I'm a word nerd so I'm in! When I was a kid I carried around a folded copy of Street and Smith's college basketball guide in one pocket (so I could keep up with all the stats for all the teams in the NCAA) and a pocket-sized edition of Webster's Dictionary in the other (so I could discover new words in the quiet moments of childhood). In those days I could tell you the assist to turnover ratio of the starting point guard for the Ball State Cardinal in one minute and the definition of 'triskaidekaphobia (a word from the Greek and New Latin that appeared around 1911 and means a fear of the number 13) in another. Ah, the wonder years!
In all my word nerdiness, I am fascinated by a book written by James Maguire and published by Rodale in 2006 titled "American Bee: The National Spelling Bee And The Culture Of Word Nerds." It follows the lives of five children as they compete in the 2004 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. These five kids (Marshall Winchester, Kerry Close, Samir Patel, Jamie Ding, and Aliya Deri) emerge as top orthographists from a group of 10 million spellers by spending 2 hours a day studying Greek and Latin word roots and spelling words like 'acesodyne', 'boeotian', and 'rijsttafel'. It is wonderful to open a literary window into the minds and hearts of these quirky geniuses and of their like-minded and like-hearted comrades.
Remember that it's good to be nerdy, quirky and ingenious about...well, about anything you want to be nerdy, quirky and ingenious about. Let's pour our minds and hearts into whoever we are and whatever we do. It will make the world a better (and 'funner') place!
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