I’m an Excellent Speller

There is a typo in every blog post.  Either I find it when I post and proofread, or I find it accidentally, way later, when everyone has already seen that I left out a word, or used “two” for “too,” or “phase” when I meant “faze,” or whatever. Everyone who is kind enough to stop by is also kind enough not to point out my typos. Now that I’m writing all day long, I am even more paranoid.  It doesn’t matter how many times you read through something.  The typos don’t show up until you walk away from it.  They’re sneaky like poltergeists.

I am a really good speller, though.  I’m obnoxious about words.  I had a friend over working on a team project, and he said, “Where’s your dictionary?” and I said, “I don’t need a dictionary.  I already know that word.”  He said, “I didn’t tell you what the word is,” and I said, “Try me.” Really, I’m a punk.

A couple of years ago I won $100 at a spelling bee at Motorco.  The competition was me, and 49 Duke professors and librarians and people in horn-rimmed glasses who all looked like they Had Credentials.  They were serious about it.  My first two rounds were a cakewalk, and the third round was harder.  Round four they gave me a word for a form of torture.  I’d never heard of it, and the audience was all chuckling, because nobody else had ever heard of it either, and they knew I was out.  In my head it sounded like “sifonism,” and it sounded like the same root word for siphoning gas, but that was just a guess.  As I was turning from talking to the judges back towards the audience, I thought to call out, “what is the origin of the word?” and they said, “Greek,” and in the quarter turn between that and the microphone, what flashed through my mind was,

cyclops.

“C-Y…”  I started, and the audience collectively gasped, because nobody saw the “C” coming.

“P-H-O-N-I-SM.  CYPHONISM.” And everyone looked at me, big-eyed, and I braced for getting thrown off stage, and the judges said,

“That is CORRECT,” and the crowd went wild.

I still had a couple more rounds, and I won on “sesquipedalian,” but that wasn’t as hard as cyphonism.  It was at cyphonism that I knew I was going to win, and I used my $100 to buy a Motorco t-shirt and a bunch of tickets to concerts I couldn’t otherwise have afforded, and it was a small victory, but I believe in celebrating victories in whatever form they take. 

So. That’s why Siri is driving me nuts lately. She thwarts me at ever turn, all day long.  I blame Siri for whatever malfeasance my iPhone creates, because she has a snarky voice and she deliberately misunderstands me a lot, and she autocorrects absolutely everything. I changed her to an Australian accent, because I’ve never met an Australian who wasn’t friendly and likable, and she proved that to be faulty stereotype.  I don’t even like her as an Australian.  I happen to like “inventive spelling,” sometimes, and so I’m doubly irritated when she corrects me.  Corrects me wrongly.

It’s the subtle mean-girl corrections I really don’t like, though.  I know when I’m being mean-girled, even if I’m a grown-up and am not going to engage in your snark by calling you out on it.  I will outright curse at Siri, though.  She’s maddening.

I’ve been keeping a list.  In the last couple of weeks, she’s had me “standing in lone,” which is just hurtful, and then I was telling someone I just “dud my first run in a month,” which is accurate but mean.  She likes to poke fun at me by trading “lust” for “list” all the time, as when I just announced that I was “working through a pretty serious lust.”  “LIST! List.”  It doesn’t matter how fast you type that back to your people.  They’re already laughing at you.  She made me tell someone last week “Hope it’s a bereft day!” Why, why, why does she undermine my relationships like that, when I obviously meant “perfect?” Although, the other day I typed, “O, how I live downtown” instead of “love,” and I actually thought that was kind of cute.

Siri and her shenanigans aside, nobody’s perfect.  Sometimes I get cocky.  I thought I knew what “nonplussed” meant, until I heard Julia Sugarbaker use it on a re-run of Designing Women a while back, and I was dead wrong.  And then this week I spent twenty minutes trying to remember whether it’s “unfeasible” or “infeasible.”  I have, in fact, fought over that very issue in the not-to-distant past, and was sooooo sure of myself, and then I lost my confidence.  The collective internet actually disagrees, but I am back to “unfeasible,” since “infeasible” was a common misspelling that seems to have become popular, and therefore I Will Not Accept It.  I had to go back to J.D. Salinger, when my possible favorite literary character Zooey is smoking in the bathtub while arguing with his mother outside the shower curtain, and “the pressure of thoughts made the actual lighting of the cigarette unfeasible.” That’s the most poetic use of the word I’ve ever heard, and if it’s good enough for Salinger, it’s good enough for me.

I found a new word yesterday, and I had to text Audrey, who also just started a new job as a writer. “Have you ever heard of ‘imbricate’?”  I asked her.  “Overlapping? As in, ‘the imbricate tiles are made of clay?”

“Great word!” she told me. “Totally appropriate to the word I just learned: ‘pangolin,’ as in, ‘the pangolin is a mammal with imbricate scales in the anteater family.'”

There’s really no point to all of this.  Spelling and iPhones and new words, and the amount of time I now spend on dictionary.com.  I’m just avoiding the real issue at hand, which is that it’s Friday afternoon and The Guy fixing my air conditioner seems to be trying to tell me that I don’t just need a new contactor after some sort of “surge” last week, I probably want to invest in a whole new unit.  “Really! $7,000 isn’t that much when you stretch it over five years!” he tells me.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

I’m going to let Siri tell him off.

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