We came, we saw, I spelled kvetch right and Neufchâtel wrong due to overthinking the cheese into a World War I battle in Alsace-Lorraine. (Except, when I investigated, this, too, was incorrect).
Still, we got to heft hardware, as Andrew Dugan demonstrates. Andrew was mostly the designated speller and he's mighty good at it.
Still, we finished second out of 15 teams assembled at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s event building for the Fourth Annual Podium Foundation Awesome Adult Spelling Bee
Podium is a non-profit organization that, among other things, supports youth in Richmond’s public schools in their publication of a journal that is a collection of their literary and artistic juvenilia (which was one of the spelling words).
The first three bees were luncheon affairs at the renovated John Marshall Hotel’s ball room.
This year, the organizers opted for the less stressful situation at Hardywood. I, for one, was pleased.
For people who may not want to be in front of crowds, spelling bees are among the worst possible situations. As a friend of mine once said about his numerical skills, “I don’t do math in front of either a date or the club house.” Whatever strengths I possess in the department with teammates Office Coordinator/Circulation Assistant Andrew Dugan and Senior Account Executive Martha Hebert, we complemented each other.
For one who traffics in words, it was exhilarating to hear them soar through the room like exotic butterflies that the spellers sought to capture. The bee started with a gimme, “growler,” went to “kvetch,” and a breeze of inspiration passed through with “afflatus” as though to cool a steaming helping of “jambalaya” — among other curious food terms — and ended up in cheese.
The attrition took a quick toll until there were just two teams: us and West Cary. And that go us to Neufchâtel.
I thought I recognized the name from not so long ago reading about the battles in France of 1914-1915. It seems a combination German-French word, “neu” being “new” in German, and a variant on the French “châteaux,” as in several chateaus. But this was way too complicated and I fumbled anyway on the “f.” Which makes it totally French, translating as, “Nine Chateaus,” or “The Place of Nine Chateaus.” Which sounds rather Game of Thrones, if you ask me.
There are several towns of Neufchâtel scattered around Normandy, but they are differentiated by suffixes like –Hardelot, -sur-Aisne, and –en-Bray. Here’s a Getty images picture of World War I troops marching through one “Neufchatel” on their way to their clash of arms probably not long after landing there from Britain.
Well, I’m not kvetching. Andrew, Martha and I, and the whole mag, got something to show for our efforts. Thanks to time-appropriate coaching by Executive Editor Tina Eshleman. And thank you, too, Dave Saunders from Madison + Main for keeping up my spirits, or at least, my beer.