*Welcome Instapundit, readers! Glenn probably linked here so you could learn how to spell laodicean, but I'd like to think it was so you could hear how I aspired to be a porn star as a child.*
For those of you who don't know (i.e. those of you less geeky than I am), last night was the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It's the Super Bowl of the super smart. Middle-schoolers from across the country compete for the prestige of knowing how to spell words that are completely unusable in conversation, unless of course the conversation is with Noah Webster's ghost. For instance, laodicean, which apparently means lukewarm or indifferent to religion or politics, was the final word that scored the 13-year-old winner $37,500.
Because I was watching King James tear it up on the court last night, I missed the Bee. (The link, from the NYT, makes an interesting connection between LeBron and Kavya's victories.) But I did watch the semi-finals on ESPN, and noticed these kids have something else that I haven't got:
Mad-crazy-hard-to-spell names. Kavya Shivashankar (winner), Anamika Veeramani, Neetu Chandak, Sidharth Chand ... the list goes on. In fact, I think it stretches all the way to India. Reminds me of the yo' momma jokes of my youth. You know: "Yo momma's
I think these parents may be onto something. By giving their kids monikers that sound like they got caught in a clothes dryer on the way to their birth certificates, the kids are forced to be spelling prodigies. Half the words these kids are asked to spell are no more difficult than their own names. Case in point: champion Shivashankar and her final word laodicean.
Not surprisingly, if you read the career aspirations of these brilliant Indian Americans, er, kids, you will see a common theme. You know what they all want to be when they grow up? Neurosurgeons. You know what little white kids want to be when they grow up? Porn stars*** or criminal masterminds, at least in the case of me and The Other McCain. Unfortunately (or would it be fortunately?), neither of us suceeded, so instead we blog.
At least we can take heart in the fact that neither of us are laodicean, and that we now know what that word means and how to spell it ... thanks to a sixth-grader.
**That's right, when I was a kid, we sat around telling each other yo' momma jokes, which explains why I didn't place first in the only on-stage spelling bee I ever participated in. It was second grade, and I went out on the word "rasberry." Yes, rasberry. The silent "p" is as unecessary now as it was then. Maybe if my parents had gone with a last name like Loganquacious (Logan + loquacious, a word that fits me well, as you all know), things might have gone differently that day. Who knows, maybe I'd be a neurosurgeon right now.
***For those who didn't click the "porn star" link. Good for you. As a reward, I'll re-post the story here:
Confessions of a child wannabe porn star.
As a small child, my family used to drive past a giant billboard bearing (and baring) a pretty blonde girl. I didn’t know what she was advertising, but I did know I wanted to grow up to be just like her. True story, folks.
It was years later that I realized growing up to be just like her would mean working nights at the local "Nutty" club. Yeah, at the time, my mom told me that N-U-D-E was pronounced "nutty," and so a “nude club” was actually a comedy club where you went to hear nutty jokes. Nice, mom.
Back to the billboard: keep in mind that we were on our way to church when we passed this sign. Also keep in mind that my dad is a preacher. Makes it even better doesn’t it?
In hindsight, it’s no wonder that his hair had fully grayed by the time I was 5-years-old. I suppose the fact that it’s now white also can be added to my list of daughterly accomplishments. That's almost as good as being a champion speller, right?