The 80th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee is underway on ESPN and, later, ABC. If the highlights inspire feelings of nostalgia and competitiveness, you can go spell your ass off at an adult spelling bee.

Last summer, we discussed the bees at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn, where people go to get drunk and slay demons from bees past. I only have one spelling bee story, so I'm going to tell it again.


That's the word that spelled my downfall in the 1989 Lakeview Elementary Spelling Bee. Some say my ignorance of alcoholic beverages should have been celebrated, not punished. OK, nobody says that. I assume by now, fourth graders are spelling words like Chlamydia and ménage à trois.

I've sat stationery these last 17 years, knowing there are four better spellers than me. In Denville, New Jersey. Born around 1979. Who attended public school. And weren't sick during the preliminaries. I can accept that. But if I were compelled to justify my intelligence, I could always turn to the thriving adult spelling circuit.

Perhaps the most famous competition is Brooklyn's Williamsburg Spelling Bee, held every other Monday at Pete's Candy Store. So famous, in fact, they even have a blog. Hosts Jennifer Dziura and Bobby Blue are a little more lenient than our grade school Language Arts teachers. Three strikes before you're out. And while I'm not sure alcohol improves spelling prowess, the liquid courage increases turnout. (If you're a TimesSelect member, you can read their Thursday Styles profile from last year.)

In addition to providing grown-ups an opportunity for redemption, adult bees have also been successful fundraisers. In Maplewood, NJ, $17,000 was raised to fund a tutoring program that had been cut by the school district. Want to hold your own? Scripps Howard has posted "official" adult spelling bee rules.

To keep things interesting, I've intentionally misspelled one word in this entry. A virtual high-five to the first person who spots it. No points will be awarded for pointing out any words unintentionally misspelled. And let's hear your spelling bee stories.
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