I take great pride in having been a part of OnPoint Community Credit Union’s Celebrity Spelling Bee for three years. It’s not just because I’m now entitled to have the barista call the name “Portland Celebrity Tyler Hughs” when my drink is ready. (They’ve never heard of me but they HAVE to do it. They HATE it!) And it’s not because of the disputed overdraft fee that I am pretty sure OnPoint reversed after my 38 sharply-worded emails in which I also mentioned my involvement with the event. It’s also because of something about giving school supplies to kids.
The first year I competed as a celebrity speller, and it was a thrilling night! I felt such a complex mixture of excitement, pride in supporting a good cause and intestinal distress. I did not win. The second year, I was demoted to judge. It was a great move. I was able to utilize my natural talents at silent criticism, smart remarks and dinging little bells. Plus, I could drink more wine without worry of slur-related disqualification.
I learned a few things by judging Portland’s best celebrity spellers. I’d like to share some of them with this year’s contestants and spellers of every celebrity status:
- Don’t say, “Like it sounds.”
- Never spell with numbers. The same goes for ampersands, dollar signs, and most other punctuation marks.
- If you spell any word with “crooked letters” or “hockey sticks” you will be eliminated. And as I learned in 2011, if a word doesn’t have the letter “I” in it, explaining there is a heart or smiley above the letter “I” is just a waste of everyone’s time.
- It is unlikely that any word you’re asked to spell will end in .com.
- If eliminated on your first word, no one will believe your story that you wagered heavily against yourself, took the fall, then donated your winnings to Schoolhouse Supplies. (Though that is still the most plausible explanation for how meteorologist Gnick Allard went out on “gnat” last year.)
- Performance-enhancing substances such as alphabet soup are still allowed. So soup it up!
See you this Thursday, January 31st, celebrity spellers! I can’t wait to judge you! In fact, I’ve already started.