There I was, looking nice, not bothering anyone, the Whittle Way, while speeding 73 mph down Interstate 24 when pretty Patricia spouts a challenge: Spell "judicious.”
I responded slowly but with clear enunciation: “j-u-d-i-c-i-o-u-s.”
You see, my wife has me in "Don't Fail to Spell" training this fall in preparation for the big Nov. 12 Celebrity Spelling Bee sponsored by Read to Succeed. It is a big annual fundraiser where every dollar stays home to provide books, materials and training supplies to help folks learn to read.
“In looking over your cast of competitors, you need all the practice you can get,” Patricia said, while schooling me early one morning on the back porch about the 100 most-often misspelled words in the English language.
“Who’s the competition?” I asked, as she read over the list out of the mighty The Murfreesboro Post newspaper.
“For one, radio professional Danny Page, who bleeds blue when MTSU loses a sports event,” Patricia said.
“Oh, I can maybe turn this Page, for radio stars are known for pronouncing words, not spelling words,” I noted with unsure confidence. “For example, WGNS Radio star Truman Jones can’t spell 'b-e-a-n-s.'”
Then, she noted that brothers Shane McFarland and Shawn McFarland are to be on stage as competitors at this year’s spelling bee.
“It ain’t right, having two brothers gang up on the others,” I said with a nasal twang and whine.
“And there’s Collier Smith,” Patricia added. “You can’t under estimate Smith, who was smart enough to marry your nemesis bear-hunting pal Fant Smith from the old Bart Gordon and Kent Syler congressional days.”
I agreed with Patricia’s assessment of pretty and brainy Smith.
“But, its Minh-Triet Tucker who has me most worried,” I said. “She’s a former White House foreign relations adviser to a president. I’ve never competed with anyone smart enough to have super-duper crypto-government security clearance.”
“But, you came in a strong second last year,” Patricia said encouragingly.
“Second is like tasting left-over, day-old spaghetti from that Italian restaurant in Nashville I refuse to go to,” I said, while whipping out a quick spelling of “M-e-z-z-a-n-i-n-e,” the dratted word that took me out of the 2012 Celebrity Spelling Bee.
“Surely, they won’t ask you to mess up mezzanine again,” my wife declared.
It’s then I asked the dreaded question: “Is last year’s spelling bee champion Don Clayton in this year’s competition?”
“N-o,” my wife spelled out.
“Coming in second behind Clayton is about as much fun as being hit up beside the head with a dead fish,” I said. “I don’t think I’d ever be able to defeat reigning spelling bee champ Clayton.”
If I don’t win this year’s Celebrity Spelling Bee, it won’t be for lack of effort from supportive Patricia.
“But, they’ve even got a smart doctor in this year’s cast of competitors,” I said lamely to my spelling coach. “I can’t spell his last name.”
If you have trouble recognizing me the night of competition, I’ll be the one on my knees praying at World Outreach Church, site of this year’s Celebrity Spelling Bee, where I hope Peter Demos will be serving his father's tasty spaghetti.
Folks needing tickets, which cost $50, can call 615-738-7323.