May 20, 2009
Last week a pun-off and this week a spelling bee? Good Lord, Austin really is Nerdvana. All those years you spent woodshedding with your Oxford English Dictionary are finally starting to pay off – both for you and your optometrist. Who knows? Someday you might even get paid for all those two-dollar words you’ve been collecting. You know, those anachronistic, multisyllabic vocabulary bombs you accidentally let drop at the auto parts store, the dry cleaner’s, or the cash register at Dairy Queen: “I’ll have a Cappuccino MooLatte, and by the way, young fellow, your company really sets the bar when it comes to ingenious culinary portmanteaus!” Careful there, word nerd: You’re just a couple of syllables away from a brand-new hairstyle via the men’s room toilet bowl. You think you’re smarter than everybody else? You think you’re something special? OK, maybe not. You just possess a vocabulary that allows you the luxury of being either painstakingly precise or obnoxiously verbose – perhaps both. It doesn’t necessarily make you the pretentious dick the kid behind the counter thinks you are; it just makes you seem like one, which is why you can find it in your heart to forgive his withering look of floccinaucinihilipilification. Sadly, he’s mostly right. Although impressive to a twisted few, an exhaustive vocabulary is pretty much worthless for the mundanity of everyday life. Language is mostly about communicating and not so much about making people Google shit on their iPhones. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dumb things down to an idiotic extreme. It just means that in order to avoid getting hung up by your tighty whiteys, you have to be able to switch lexicological gears every now and then. You have to be sensitive to your environment and keep that shit buttoned down … unless you’re at a Mensa meeting, a renaissance fair, or a Star Trek screening – and not the cool, sexy, new Star Trek either. The point is, you made your bed, and now you have to lie in it – most likely alone. Why? Because when it comes to attracting members of the opposite sex, a huge vocabulary operates as a figurative force field for all but a select few. Therefore, when you’re mackin’, it’s best to throttle it down to two syllables or fewer, unless you’re whipping out one of those embarrassingly idiotic, woo-pitching portmanteaus like, “Baby, I’m sexilicious!” Nonsensical hormone-infused prattle like that shows that even though you’re mentally well endowed, you’re not stuck up about it. The truth is, no one really minds if you’re a nerd as long as you don’t let it go to your head. In fact, Austin is chock-full of nerds, geeks, and eggheads who by some aberration of nature or nurture aren’t laboring under the misconception that their defecation isn’t odiferous. It’s one of those intangibles that makes Austin such a charming place. Tonight you can experience some of that charm at the Chronicle’s Adult Spelling Bee – a boozy, informal competition to crown Austin’s next spelling genius. You don’t have to be a word nerd to be entertained. A good part of the fun is watching the geniuses try to hold it together like normal people. Winner takes home a spectacular trophy and certificate good for a beer a day for a year at Threadgill’s. A brain that big could probably stand to lose a few cells anyway, right?