Cliff Gardner

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bee all you can be!

Last weekend, Amy, Julia, Max and I watched “Spellbound,” the movie that inspired what I feel was my best work in Online Onslaught last summer. Seeing that movie again made me feel like posting my story on here for folks new to CG. Below is the prompt and story, enjoy!

"Summertime and the living is easy Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high"-- Summertime What four images say summer to you? Relate them together in prose/poetry/whatever-suits-your-fancy.

Bee all you can be!

It was June, and for Arun Ashymana, that meant two things: it was summer, and it was time to defend his Scripps National Spelling Bee title again. As he boarded the 747 non-stop to Dulles International, alone, Arun tightened his grip on his first class boarding pass. As he massaged the paper between his fingers, he smiled, and thought to himself “one more time, one more summer.”

Since winning his third spelling bee title a year ago, Arun had become about as high profile a celebrity as a 14-year-old speller can. As he de-planed, Arun stopped to sign autographs in the jet way, his trophy an impediment to those trying to pass. In the distance, he noticed a sign that read: Arun Ashymana, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Tixas. Climbing into his limousine (L-I-M-O-U-S-I-N-E, thought Arun), the driver asked where his parents were. When Arun didn’t answer, the driver commented that he seemed quiet. “You spelled Texas wrong on the sign” Arun quipped. “I don’t expect genius from someone whose career has leveled out driving teen spellers around, but come ON. Five letters, hoss. Can I keep that sign? My parents will love it.” When the driver handed the sign back and rolled up the dividing window with distain, Arun said quietly, “one more time, one more summer.”

The Hyatt was covered in Scripps Spelling Bee paraphernalia (P-A-R-A-P-H-E-R-N-A-L-I-A, Arun whispered to himself), and while the other contestants seemed taken aback by the display, Arun wasn’t impressed. He had been professionally spelling since he was 11. Cockily, he strutted through the lobby wearing a shirt that read “I’m from the The SC: Sub-Continent,” a parody of his India heritage. Despite his confident appearance, Arun was an emotional wreck. The truth was that his parents didn’t make the trip to Washington D.C. because it all seemed boring to them at this point. Arun would win, pay for another year of college, and be home in time to compete in the annual Punt, Pass and Kick Competition, in which he placed 3rd last year. They didn’t know that Arun was very hurt by their absence, or that he vowed to take the gloves off this time around with no one to hold him back.

Arun breezed through the first four rounds, spelling quickly and confidently. After all, he had studied his first two words, “pharisaical” and “arbuscle,” just weeks before the competition, and “pruritus” was so easy he felt embarrassed spelling it. After he laughed aloud when a skinny white girl misspelled oligopsony, she started to cry even before she was ushered off the stage. Everyone around Arun was glaring at him by now, so when round five rolled around, he felt no reason to not say what was on his mind. Arun closed his eyes and smelled the microphone before asking, “does it come from a Latin word meaning, ‘I’m the best speller in the room, no one’s close?’” Then he quickly fired out “lederhosen” and sat down before anyone could respond. Feeling his chair was familiar. As he reclined in it and started to doze off on stage, Arun thought to himself, “one more time, one more summer.”

The next morning, they were dropping like flies. A girl from Connecticut went down on “edulcorate” while a Mexican boy from Arizona dropped on “glockenspiel.” Before a girl named Laura from Tennessee was about to spell, Arun said behind her, “you will NOT spell this word right…you’re going to panic and choke.” He was right. She screwed up “argillaceous” and earned 9th place. By the time Arun was one of only two spellers left, he had successfully made 15 different children cry. When he shouted at his final opponent, “You’re going to fuck this up and we both know it…just take your free t-shirt and go back to Indiana” live on ESPN-2, the judges—and the audience-- had finally had enough. Arun was disqualified and the 2005 Scripps National Spelling Bee was awarded to Kelly Margowitsky, representing the Birmingham Post-Herald, Birmingham, Alabama.

Thinking of his absent parents, Arun leapt off the stage and grabbed the trophy, sprinting out the door. “One more time, one more summer” he shrieked, laughing hysterically and knowing his summer had finally started.


  • i agree - i think this was one of your best posts during onslaught

    you rock!

    - giddy giraffee :D

    By Anonymous kiyomi b., at 1:14 AM  

  • that's funny.

    and you're a nerd.

    By Blogger Ashley, at 7:19 PM  

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