Whittle: Dan works on his s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g
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There I was, looking nice, not bothering anyone, the Whittle Way, while speeding 73 MPH down Interstate 24 when pretty Patricia spouts a challenge: "Judicious!"

I responded slowly, but with clear enunciation: "j-u-d-i-c-i-o-u-s …"

You see, wife has me in "Don't Fail to Spell" training this fall in preparation for the big Nov. 12 "C-e-l-e-b-r-i-t-y Spelling Bee," Read to Succeed's big annual fund-raiser where every dollar stays home to provide books, materials and training supplies to help folks learn to read.

"In looking over your cast of competitors, you need all the practice you can get," Patricia advocated while schooling me early one morning on the back porch about the 100 most-often m-i-s-s-p-e-l-l-e-d words in the English language.

"Who's the c-o-m-p-e-t-i-t-i-o-n?" I asked as she read over the list out of the mighty Murfreesboro Post newspaper.

"For one, radio professional Danny Page, who bleeds blue when MTSU loses a sports event," Patricia pounded on.

"Oh, I can maybe turn this Page, for radio stars are known for pronouncing words, not spelling words," I noted with unsure c-o-n-f-i-d-e-n-c-e. "For example, WGNS Radio star Truman Jones can't spell b-e-a-n-s."

Then, P-a-t-r-i-c-i-a noted that "brothers" Shane and Shawn McFarland are to be on stage as competitors at this year's S-p-e-l-l-i-n-g Bee.

"It ain't right, having two brothers gang up on the others," I e-d-i-t-o-r-i-a-l-i-z-e-d with a nasal twang and whine.

"And there's Collier Smith," Patricia cast on. "You can't under-estimate Collier, who was smart enough to marry your nemesis bear-hunting pal Fant Smith from the old Bart Gordon/Kent Syler congressional days."

I agreed with Patricia's a-s-s-e-s-s-m-e-n-t of pretty and brainy Collier.

"But, its Minh-Triet Tucker who has me most worried," I assessed with c-o-n-c-e-r-n. "She's a former White House foreign relations advisor to a president. I've never competed with anyone smart enough to have super-duper k-r-y-p-t-o government security clearance."

"But, you came in a strong second last year," Patricia encouraged.

"Second is like tasting left-over, day-old s-p-a-g-h-e-t-t-i from that Italian restaurant in Nashville I refuse to go to," I noted while whipping out a quick spelling of "m-e-z-z-a-n-i-n-e," the dratted word that took me out of the 2012 Spelling B-e-e!

"Surely, they won't ask you to mess up mezzanine again," wife declared with an edge.

It's then I asked the dreaded question: "Is last year's bull-of-the-woods Spelling Bee champion Don Clayton in this year's competition?"

"N-o," wife spelled out.

"Coming in second behind Clayton is about as much fun as being hit up beside the head with a dead fish," I c-h-o-r-t-l-e-d on. "I don't think I'd ever be able to defeat reigning Spelling Bee champ Clayton."

If I don't win this year's Celebrity Spelling Bee, it won't be for lack of effort from s-u-p-p-o-r-t-i-v-e Patricia.

"But, they've even got a smart doctor in this year's cast of competitors," I noted l-a-m-e-l-y to my spelling coach. "I can't spell his last name."

If you have trouble recognizing me the night of competition, I'll be the one on my knees praying at World Outreach Church, site of this year's Celebrity Spelling Bee, where I hope Peter Demos will be serving his Dad's tasty m-e-a-t - s-a-u-c-e spaghetti.

B-u-r-p!!!!

Folks needing $50 attendance tickets can call 615-738-7323.

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