Spelling Bee Absentee
I’m a terrible speller, I have a knack for finding spelling rule loopholes, and I rely heavily on phonetics. When a friend relocated to the States she packaged up her mountain bike with instructions for me to mail it to her at a later date. As the courier was dragging the package out the door it was pointed out that I had made a spelling error in the address. I quickly grabbed a marker, scribbled over the misprint, rewrote the word, and then added an apologetic ‘OPPs!’ beside my autograph. Woops!
When I applied to study illustration abroad in Scotland I set out to insure my application would stand out from the competition. I had yet to own the most important invention to Dana-kind — an automated spell checking device. I typed out all the requirements (essay, consulate letter, references etc.) via a manual typewriter, and went about the tedious task of adding text flourishes by burnishing Letraset letters, one by one, onto beautifully crafted paper. I emerged from my deadline-educed all-nighter victorious and sent the package merrily on its way. I proudly showed my friend copies of the beautiful things I thought I had done. The expression on her face had “opps” written all over it! This time I had spelt Scotland with two ‘tt’s’ throughout the whole application. Thankfully the kind folks over in Bonnie Scotland found it in their hearts forgive my otherwise unforgivable blunder and accepted me anyway. Because of this and many other redeeming features of this beloved country, Scotland will forever be embedded in my heart.
Fifteen-ish years ago while working on a print project that had a press run of half a million, I had made the same mistake 500,000 times. In the Sports and Leisure section of an advertising publication, I had spelt ‘leisure’ with an I before E, because there was no bloody C! In my defense the book went through seven other proofreaders and none of them caught it either.
To this day I break into a cold sweat whenever a print project goes to press and I never ever trust golden spelling rules learned in grade school. I also find it incredibly convenient how these days, with the bulk of typing being done with two digits vs. the usual ten, bad spellers everywhere have been unanimously granted a pardon that goes something like this: “This message is being sent from my i/crack/berry device – please excuse any spelling errors. Thank you.”