A R CANZANO
1. Prestidigitation. A word I spelled in a fifth grade spelling bee. I remember the ceiling, white squares—I would have found patterns on them if I weren’t praying to spell the next word right. Back then I spelled words by picturing letters that hung from the ceiling. Prestigitation. Could you repeat the word? Prestidigitation, I say. Prestidigitation? Yes, prestidigitation. Definition? (Isn’t it something Russian, no that’s perestroika, another word from the list). Magic tricks performed as entertainment. Language of origin? French, from Latin. All the mothers gasped, I got the word right.
2. Spilth: S. I am on TV, channel 7 news. P. It means something spilled. I. This can’t be this easy. L. If I spell this right I go to Washington DC, national TV. The other kids want me dead. H. No ding of the bell, I am right, and I get a trophy and flowers.
1. Palmetto. I am in sixth grade. The announcer has a lisp and a southern accent. He says palmeddo, and I spell palmeddo; I know there must be a word for T’s that sound like D’s. From now on I hate all kinds of palm trees.
2. Or schnecke, the last word of my spelling bee career. Sounds like a malformed neck. It’s actually some kind of German cinnamon roll. That was 8th grade, my strategy was to write words out on my arm, finger as pen. But C’s and K’s confuse. And so does the “uh,” the schwa sound.
3. ”Schneke, shneka, schneka, schnecke, always go with your first instinct: schneke. But first instinct is wrong. The only time I’ve ever seen SCHNECKE was in Oprah magazine, “a featured product,” 3 years later.