I am, in general, a docile attender of school activities. But the spelling bee is difficult for me. My feelings are analogous, I think, to those of ex-high school basketball stars, who spend their middle-age years flinching in the stands as their chunky sixth-graders haplessly lump up and down the court. If I had a blood pressure problem, it would get worse during a spelling bee.
Let me be blunt. I am a really good speller, with a photographic memory for words. I have always been a really good speller. I was the kind of annoying second grader who added "Yugoslavia" to the classroom words-we-want-to-know-how-to-spell list. But I have never been in a spelling bee. For some reason, none of the schools I attended had spelling bees. Nonetheless, I appear to have a lurking competitive spelling spirit, and I literally have to sit on my hands and grind my teeth during middle school spelling competitions. I find it almost unbearable to listen to the halting oral progression of spelling error: "Psychoanalysis. P-H-S-Y-C-O-A-N-N-. . . . "
Update: Came in third. Spelled "artificial" A-R-T-I-F-I-C-A-L. Thank God it's over, for this year at least.