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I have some very competitive friends. I don’t deny that trivia makes me stabby and induces shouting and insults. It happens. It’s a risk of “playing” “games.” I’m much more mellow about things like Scrabble where you can easily blame the fates rather than your own inadequate knowledge of random things like the fact that Hong Kong is one of the islands off the delta of the Pearl River.
Cut to everyone who reads this thinking, “Well obviously, I mean who doesn’t know that.” Don’t start with me.
One of my roommates comes from a hardcore Scrabble playing family. Seriously hardcore. I would be forced to decline any invitation to play with them, the emotional stakes of playing would be too high. I would be out-scrabbled within the first round. Pulverized. Apparently her father is a big fan of spelling letters out at the end to fill in all those odd little spaces and to get rid of those last pesky letters… which brings me to my point, most circuitously.
[Kathleen says that is my strength.]
As a child in those early days of learning that spelling is quite a tricky business my mind was boggled by one question: How do you spell a letter? It was a deeply philosophical issue. A chicken and egg sort of problem in my mind and one with which nobody else seemed remotely concerned or interested. The letter M particularly irked me because it blatantly began with a vowel sound and I clung to this undeniable truth. I recall asking multiply teachers and other various adults and they all lied to me. Always trying to get children to shut up, stop questioning and go away. Adults are hideous. Lies, lies, lies.
My teacher definitively informed me that letters were self spelling, after all what did I mean, by “spell a letter?” “A letter is a letter.” So there I was, labeled as irrational and something of a troublemaker (really? really?), sentenced to practicing my awful penmanship. Really glad that computer revolution went down, by the way.
Back to the impetus, I buried this intellectual disappointment for years. Decades even. Then one day I talked my roommates into a game of Scrabble (which will probably never happen again, based on the vitriolic and combative emotions aroused) and Molly mentioned the spelling of letters. I can’t even tell you how vindicated I suddenly felt. True, had I been deeply worried for the past twenty years (ouch), I could easily have proven the point to myself a million times over and even written letters to the teachers who made me doubt myself as a child. That is not the point, the point is that you should all now definitely know that you can spell a letter and that only 4 out of 26 letters are spelled only by their very own lonely selves.
I feel better.
For your information: a, bee, cee, dee, ee, ef, gee, aitch, i, jay, kay, el, em, en, o, pee, cue, ar, ess, tee, u, vee, double-u, ex, wye, zee (zed).
I knew you would care.