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Spell It


by David James


At this year's “Unreconstructed Sons Of The South Convention” spelling bee, the word, “niggardly”, brought forth the ineluctable guffaws despite the proctor's warning beforehand that the contest was serious and that quiet was required for the contestants to hear the word to be spelled and that disorder could metastasize, leading to another shitty evening and might even result in getting kicked out of here, and over to the Johnny Reb Hotel — née Hotel Dixie —  again this year. He loudly reminded those behaving poorly that last year they had to move to that feculent, sleep hole where finding a couple of ticks on one's person was a common occurrence. Keeping things within respectable order was, as usual with these guys, a quixotic task. It hasn't been accomplished yet. 

I guess I was the elephant in the room because my job here in Marjorie, Misissippi was to give full coverage of the event in my column for our local paper, “The Marjorie Morningstar”. Again this year I was winging it and planning to cut and paste most of last year's convention using that computer doohicky because who cares about some shitty little gathering such as this? I was doodling and kept drifting off until one of the servers nudged me awake like I'd asked him to about an hour ago when I tipped him big for the last crabcake on the platter. 

The Convention is always held in late February—the 24th, this year—and it was an uncommonly cold day, even though the forsythia bushes were already in bloom, I had to use a a scraper to remove the frost from the windshield of my car, an old '73 Mercury Marauder. Outside there was still a little zephyr like wind. Must of come down from Canada with some late arriving snowbirds. Hard to start that sucker that day, too. But I had an infatuation with that old car, had it since high school and got my first piece in it at the Stardust Drive-in theatre. OK, sure, her name was Betty Sue Jenkins. She said she still gets all frothy thinking about that night. Yeah, I married her. Her older brother, Bobby Joe, found out and walloped my ass. Well, that's a fabrication, he asked me how was it. He laughed and said he'd tried to do her too but she ran too fast. I knew he was lying because she can't run well with that limp. Bee Jay, that's what we called Bobby Joe, is still around town. He runs the sander putting bevels on that trim lumber at his daddy's little sawmill.

Anyway, sorry I let my mind wander like this. Back to the Convention. The last word on the spelling bee was: “incalescent” No one even got a chance to try it because the rule was that the word had to be used in a sentence and the proctor couldn't even do it because it wasn't in the old, spline- busted Thorndike-Barnhart dictionary he was using.   


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