Monday, September 17, 2007

Er, isn't that what I said?

I was a spelling bee champ in elementary school. In 5th grade, I even made it to the final round in the all county spelling bee. I remember stepping up to the microphone, being given a really complicated word (triskaidekaphobia!), and looking at my mom in the audience as she closed her eyes and held her breath. "Don't blow it", my fifth grade self would say. "But don't take too long or Mom will pass out". Mom was usually the one to go through my spelling drills with me. I'll never forget "assassinate" because I would always screw it up with her. That is until she, full of exasperation that I finally understand (now having two kids of my own) yelled "Think Nancy, THINK! ASS ASS IN ATE!!!"

Although, I may be mixing this up with another incident close to that time when I put off memorizing a passage from Luke for the Christmas pageant. I had weeks and weeks to do it, and of course put it off. When I finally confessed to mom that I had one day to get it down, she pulled me into my bedroom, where I sat on the blue shag rug behind the door. Mom leaned against my dresser, and repeating after her phrase by phrase I finally memorized:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

It took us HOURS. The next night at the pageant, I recited those lines, watching her face in the audience. Again, she closed her eyes and held her breath. She has amazing lung capacity.

But I digress.

Today I have a dangerous vocabulary. I know a lot of words, and I know OF a lot more words. This just means that I sort of understand their meaning, but usually screw up the context. Just this morning, for example, I learned from's word of the day that 'having moral turpitude' is not a positive trait. Oops.

I'm not sure on what I blame my lazy vocabulary. After elementary school, I never really enjoyed spelling any more. I still read quite a bit, but words were never again all consuming. Maybe it was the new found freedom I found in a daily school bus ride. Or, from other interests. I started violin lessons in 6th grade (wisely NOT telling my mother when I was soloing until we were driving to the concert. Fortunately, I had to focus on the music and could no longer watch her eyes close.) I really wanted to be a cheerleader (never happened). In high school, I was fully ensconced in the theater offerings, as well as marching band. And those dreaded PSAT vocabulary lists were probably the final nail in the coffin.

Postscript: Last night we were driving home from dinner at a local barbecue restaurant. I rarely eat ribs b/c they're just so darn messy. However, I had the 'rib tips' because... I dunno... they SOUNDED less messy. They weren't. They were less appetizing in front of me, though. I was trying to explain why I thought they would be good, so I said to Mike "You know the Applebee's riblets? They were much less messy. You could enjoy the ribs, and would be left with a clean little scapular piece of bone."

"THAT's a descriptive way to describe it. Scapular." Mike explains what a scapular is. Hazards of growing up Southern Baptist, I am unfamiliar with most of the mechanical devices of religious discomfort used in Catholicism. We just had good, old fashioned guilt.

So now, I wonder if scapular is the right word. Isn't it a bone? Did I somehow confuse the word I meant with scapular? Did I mean clavicle? No... that's the collar bone. I mean something that looks like a teeny weeny shoulder blade. I look it up, and there it is: Scapula. The shoulder blade. I was right!

Except that I was talking about ribs.

No comments: