Thursday, December 14, 2006


Our Feliz Navidad-themed office Christmas party will be next week and I’m serving on the planning committee. One of my colleagues had the good idea to have a salsa contest during the event, so I’ve already borrowed a recipe from a friend and I’ll enter her really good salsa for all to enjoy.

But this process got me thinking about different contests I’ve entered over the years, and how I never win.



Granted, I’m not a super competitive person at heart (which is why I was ultimately such a bad athlete!), but it’s true that I really don’t win contests. Cooking contests, costume contests, talent contests, artistic contests…nope, don’t win ‘em. Oh, I’ve placed in the top 3, or so, but the elusive #1 spot seems to escape me more often than not.

Mortifying case in point – my fifth grade spelling bee. YES, I KNOW that this happened 28 years ago but IT STUCK WITH ME, okay?

It was the final round of the competition and it was just me and Brenda Hudson left standing. I had strategically eliminated my competitors by accurately spelling such bombs as “vacuum” and “bazaar” – oh those double vowels didn’t fool me.

My final word? METHOD. That’s right, method. The thought bubbles were exploding out of my head, “METHOD? NO WAY! WAY TOO EASY. THIS MUST BE A TRICK! METHOD?” After my allotted time to mull over whether or not this was some cruel joke that involved a silent “e” or a sneaky “a”, I decided that the word really was as easy as it seemed as I kept repeatedly sounding out the word in my head. So with the smirk of a confident fool, I ever so calmly, and a little too loudly, stated, “Method. M-E-TH-O-D. Method”.

Oh, I could taste victory and I could feel the Jim Darcy spelling bee championship trophy in my clammy hands, when the judge asked me to repeat the spelling. So again, I said, “Method. M-E-TH-O-D”. Method.” Oh, it must have sounded so glorious that he wanted to hear its melodic tones again. The judge’s surprised words finally pierced my thought bubbles when he said, “Uh, Miss Holliday, “TH” is not a letter. Please have a seat. Miss Johnson, please spell Method.”

That’s right, folks, I had said out loud, not once, but TWICE, the imaginary letter “TH”, pronouncing it just like those letters sound when used in a word. When this slowly dawned on me, as the entire student body was wildly cheering for Brenda, who had managed to spell the word using letters from the actual English alphabet, all I wanted at that moment was death, D-E-A-TH, death.

Oh well. It might have been a little bit hard to live down since I was such an anal retentive perfectionist as a kid, but in the big scheme of life, I learned that everything is relative and little did I know then that I would certainly lose MANY more competitions in MUCH more embarrassing ways in the future.

But I’ll save the story of 10th grade cheerleader try outs for another day.


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