For my friends and I, the annual Spelling Bee is our Super Bowl. We get together, eat a bunch of snacks, drink wine, and watch kids stumble over Greek versus Sanskrit phonemes in words we’ve never even heard before. Well, that’s not exactly true–one of the rare delights of the bee is when we hear a hard-to-spell word that we DO know, like “Nietzschean” or “sinicise,” that the kids can spell from their language-of-origin knowledge even if they’ve never heard the word before themselves.
This year, the contestant I was rooting for, Tia Thomas, only got to third place, getting her ass handed to her on the word “opificer.” At the highest, hardest reaches of spelling, the words become oddly phonetic-looking, so that the contestants wind up way overthinking them, tripping over themselves to place random vowels and s-c-h’s into words that Corky from Life Goes On would probably guess in an instant.
And just like most geniuses, the kids (and viewers) of this year’s bee found their biggest comic relief of the evening from a very Beavis and Butthead misunderstanding, which you bee viewers out there will probably remember for years to come as winner Sameer Mishra’s “numnah” versus “numb-nut” moment: