Thursday, April 19, 2007

Only Cool People Know What Predicates Are.

...They're like prepositions, right?

Those of you who have been occasionally keeping tabs on Weenie Enema through the years know that we're very into propagating certain amazingness in life that is not properly acknowledged as such, whether it's Ariel Sharon-related, Paddington Bear-related or Winona Didn't Do It-related. However, some societal elements are just considered SO taboo that it's going to take more than a blog post to get them officially recognized. And for those of you furrowing your brows and thinking, "Wait...I don't think Emma actually convinced anyone that Winona was framed...," your opinion, sadly, is not relevant to this discussion.

innocent: adj. Ryder, Winona.

While it would simply be delightful to pen yet another post about Winona, we're not going to, chiefly because it's getting rather tedious to try to constantly convince people that Winona will figure a way out of this Vicodin-laced nightmarish decent into Adam Sandler crapfests, and because it is hardcore necessary to convince people to start attending the monthly spelling and grammar bees that Union Hall in Park Slope hosts.

Last month, my chum and occasional cohort Abbi invited me to go to a bar of all places. I do not go to bars. They always give me this LOOK when I order Diet Pepsis, and really, if I can buy a 2-liter bottle for $0.99 at C-Town, why would I pay five times as much for a watered down version while Philip Seymour Hoffman lookalikes leer at me? Which is basically what I told her. When I found out that this "bar" was in Park Slope, I tossed the name around in my head and asked, "Isn't that in Brooklyn? As in, not in Manhattan? As in, you want me to return to the borough where crazy people tried to KILL ME two years ago?" Since she is very wise and noble, Abbi ignored me and somehow convinced me to go.

It was seriously like this on every street corner in Bed Stuy. Except the pig had not been caught by the cops yet and was chasing me.

Based on my previous experience going across the East River, I was pretty sure Park Slope was a ghetto and that the puffy vest was not going to be enough to save me. I came out of the subway...and I saw a row of brownstones. I figured it was a trick, so I immediately called Abbi to come rescue me. While I waited, I counted scary people. Since I couldn't find any, I counted scary cars instead. Abbi came after the 12th scary car, ignored my inquiries about where the ghetto was, and after supping on subpar bovine, we hightailed it over to Union Hall to participate in the Grammar and Spelling Bee.

Dead cows, beware. You will not be treated well.

I don't know how to describe this Grammar and Spelling Bee in a positive way without looking like a huge, huge dork, but I'm hoping that since everyone knows I am very, very cool, they will give me the benefit of the doubt and hear me out. Union Hall is basically a library with bocce courts, the non-annoying English majors from NYU (there were maybe five or six) and a basement with a small stage and podium that generally serves as a music venue - unless there's a totally awesome spelling and grammar shindig going down. We ran down there because we had not taken into account that the bad-tasting cow corpses were basically on the other side of Park Slope, and although we stumbled in 15 minutes past the 8pm start time, we ARE talking about bar regulars, and they're not anal about time like I am. We signed up, put on the plastic headbands with two bee antennae attached, and got ready to ROCK OUT.

Not as cool as the newsie cap, but it served its purpose.

While I've made this out to be a huge event, we're only talking about maybe 15 contestants and 10 other drunkards who had wandered downstairs after their bocce game to watch a competition that was mostly conducted with the assistance of a sound tech guy who kept playing Earth, Wind and Fire when contestants went up to the stage, and a host who was a DEAD ringer for Colin Firth, except more Gay Pride than Pride and Prejudice. It was very exciting, and the tension was palpable. About three or four of the contestants looked to be around 50 years old, and the rest were, if not my age, within 10 years of my dramatic cesarean birth at the NYU Medical Center. Except for the pot-bellied drunk from Portland, Oregon, who didn't appear to know exactly what he had signed up for, everyone but me knew their shizzle. We're talking about English grad students who masturbate to relative clauses, i.e., people who make me look positively illiterate.

The format was relatively simple, considering the complexity of some of the questions lobbed at us. In the order you signed up on the piece of paper, you went up to the stage, engaged in a few pleasantries with Colin and attempted to answer a spelling, grammar or just a general word question. The first few contestants were asked to spell various venereal diseases, making me extremely thankful that we HAD been late. I do not know how to spell clhymedia. Or hemmheroids.

By the time I got up there, the audience was euphoric, reveling in this girl who spent 10 minutes (successfully) spelling Saskatchewan. Colin Firth scrolled down the list. "E.E.?" My moment had come. I bounded up on stage.
"Is E.E. short for something?"
"Emma Elizabeth."
"Why do you go by E.E."
"I generally don't."
"I thought having a pretentious literary name might give me an edge."
The audience shifted around uncomfortably.
"Interesting. How did you hear about this contest, E.E.?"
"My friend Abbi. She's next."
"I see. Spell 'nugatory.'"
"Is that a real word?"
Colin glares.
"May I have the language of origin?"
The audience titters derisively.
"It's Latin."
"Oh. n-u-ga-t-o-r-y."
And I made it past the first round.

"You may go to the next round."

As for Abbi? Well, I wasn't really paying much attention because, you know, I made it past the first round. At some point, one of her antennae were clipped (this crazy guy, who I think was boning Colin, sat in the front row for the entire bee with garden shears, poised to snip if someone missed a question. But since bees have TWO antennae, we all got a second chance.) when she missed this insanely hard question about meritocracies. I think it was rigged.

While we waited for the second round to start, I began frantically texting everyone on my phone with "I made it to the second round!" mostly because I knew they wouldn't know that EVERYONE makes it to the second round. Anyone who texted back, "Second round of what?" was promptly deleted from my address book. The price of ignorance.

As the second round unfolded, the drunk guy from Portland and a few others were eliminated, and I got to go back on stage.
"This is going to be a grammar question."
"Shit! I mean...yes. Excellent."
"Take a look at this sentence on the screen."
Although my memory is exemplary, this was last month, so let's just pretend the sentence was "Emma is very awesome...and there is no one more awesome."
"What is the term used for the '...' and spell it."
I don't know how I was lucky enough to get two fairly easy questions, but it meant I got to go to at least the fourth round, since my antennae were intact and I know how to spell ellipsis.

Alas, if you thought this tale was going to be about how I won my first grammar and spelling bee, I'm sorry to disappoint. The third round question was this crazy shizzle about clauses or...simple sentences or something completely indecipherable, and I calmly answered, "Prepositional phrase," which was not the right answer. In the fourth round, they asked me to change a sentence to passive voice, and that wasn't good either. I was done. My antennae were clipped, and I settled back in my seat with a 6th place finish. Abbi was a bit better than me, placing 5th. When there were only five left (meaning right after I CRASHED AND BURNED), those top five went up on stage for the duration, and the pace went much more quickly. Sadly, Abbi was not up there for long, but since she really knew her grammar, I knew she'd be back with a vengence this month.

This past Tuesday, I returned. I brought DB Bogangles to participate, and enough people have expressed mild curiosity about what I've been doing on random Tuesdays instead of watching JORDIN SPARKS on Idol that I think we may get another member of my posse in May to participate. Fingers crossed.

Obligatory Jordin Sparks promotional device. Vote Jordin.

This time, shizzle was different. This time when I was asked to change the sentence "The doctor examined Lady" to passive voice, I said, "Lady was examined by the doctor." This time, I got into the top 5 with Abbi and had to down tequila shots while spelling state capitals backwards. This time, I got fourth place and a tiny bottle of cinnamon breath spray as a prize. And Abbi? Abbi is the official champion of the April Union Hall Spelling and Grammar Bee, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever. Oh, and DB finished fifth, an impressive showing for a newbie, and Abbi's roommate, who looks like David Duchovny mixed with emo, was hardcore railroaded and dealt insane questions. Since he's, like, a college professor at the age of about 25, I'm thinking we haven't heard the last from him. Anyway, everyone and their cat should come next month. Here is the link. And here is a picture of a chocolate french bulldog. A REAL chocolate french bulldog.


At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh. i can't believe you thought park slope was the ghetto. it's basically full of rich families, lesbians and hipsters. your puffy vest fits right in.

i go there often. in fact, i'll be there this weekend. haha... park slope... the ghetto...


At 11:56 AM, Blogger e.e.grimshaw said...

no way, I'M going to be in park slope! come to 6th st. and 5th avenue. thank you.

At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'll do my best



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