Thursday, May 19, 2016

I am Word Master! (from '14)

Busy day. A 2 p.m. "Crayons!" presentation in Lebo, then a dash across town to reprise my role as word master for the Greensburg Rotary spelling bee. It's a lot of fun and I'm pleased they keep having me back. This is what I wrote in advance of my '14 debut.

The list was given to me in strictest confidence with explicit instructions not to share it with another soul.

Nuclear launch codes?

Nah, all 276 words to be used at the 3rd grade spelling bee tomorrow at Stanwood Elementary School near New Stanton in the Hempfield Area School District.

So just in case any elementary schoolers are reading today’s blog, I’ll not dare spill any of the test words.

But I will say this: I used six of them in the first four paragraphs — oops! I mean I used six of them in the first first four “sentences.”

Why was I entrusted with the list?

Because I am a Word Master.

Hell, I am THE Word Master!

At least I will be tomorrow night to about three dozen 8-year-old spellers.

I was asked to perform the duty after a friendly organizer heard me speak at an area Rotary presentation. I think I impressed her when I didn’t stumble over three-syllable words like syllable.

She said it’ll be my job to read the words aloud and answer questions about usage, part of speech, etc.

Word Master.

Care to hear me use it in a sentence?

“Because Chris Rodell is now a certified Word Master, no one can make fun of him if he ever missspellz another word.”

Word Master. It has a faintly dominatrix connotation to it, don’t you think?

I wonder if I can get my wife to join me in a little Word Master role play. I can rattle off a sexy verb, define it, then just sit back and let the games begin. If I find the result unsatisfactory I can just reach over and ring a little bell — ding! — and she’ll run crying from the room.

Oh, lord, I hope none of the children cry. I’ll probably leap over the judge’s table and give the little weeper a great big consoling hug — and we all know what kind of trouble stranger adults can get into hugging children they’ve never met.

It’s just one of the ways that the evening will be fraught with peril for a guy like me. Worse is my propensity to be such a smart ass joker in these types of situations.

All the grown ups will be watching. Nerves will be on edge. The stifling room will be utterly still.

Can you think of a better time to rip a really good, loud fart?

Outside of a good buddy’s funeral, I can’t.

I’ll be disgraced, of course, but I know it’ll crack up at least half of the 3rd grader boys on stage and that reaction remains a strong motivator for guys like me.

One of our favorite family movies is “Akeelah and the Bee” about a wonderful inner city girl who overcomes challenging circumstances to become a national spelling champ. The 2006 flick is to spelling bee movies what “Searching for Bobby Fisher” is to chess movies, which is to chess movies what “Rocky” is to boxing movies.

So it’s really enjoyable, and about 100 times better than the recently released spelling bee movie, “Bad Words,” starring Jason Bateman. USA Today gave it “1/2 out of 4 stars,” which is what all movies get if the film stumbles through to the credits.

I sat there fidgeting thinking, man, I could do a spelling bee movie better than this.

Remember, I have a rich history with the Scripps National Spelling Bee, having twice been a chaperone for contestants (links below) and set still-standing records for outlandish expense account profligacy.

Even better, I last year authored history’s greatest grade school spelling bee joke. 

It started when I was helping our darling 7 year old with her spelling words. Test words included “took,” “play,” “jump,” “help,” etc.

Then I came to the simple word “rule.”

Here’s what happened:

I said, “Spell rule.”

Lucy said, “R-U-L-E.”

She’d spelled a word, but it sounded like she’d asked me a question. I said, “You know I’m not Ellie. Now spell rule.”

Some of you may have to read that part twice.

We went on like that for about 10 minutes, her getting increasingly agitated spelling “R-U-L-E” and me insisting I wasn’t Ellie and demanding she again spell “rule.”

So you get some sense of the minefield we’re about to enter.

There could be brawls, shin-kickings, hair-pulling and ear-bitings — and that’s just between me and the angry 3rd graders. Concerned parents will no doubt wade into the melee shouting in unison, “It’s go time!” 

It has all the ingredients of being first spelling bee to ever warrant pay-per-view cable interest.

Yes, me being Word Master might really spell trouble. 

Just don’t anyone go asking if my name’s Ellie.

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