That’s the word I went out on, for fuck’s sake.
Before you judge, you need to understand that A) the pronouncer was mispronouncing EVERYTHING all night, and B) she pronounced that word “HO-MUH-LEE.” Not “HOME-LEE.” So, since I knew she was mispronouncing everything, and the previous word I’d gotten right (“vespertine,” which she pronounced “vesper-tayhn,” which, yes, is acceptable, but certainly not how I would say it) was religious, I assumed she was mispronouncing “homily.” Which is how I spelled it.
And okay, technically, the definition of “vespertine” has nothing to do with religion, but I know from vespers, which is how I got it. (You know, besides the fact it’s completely phonetic.) I want that on the record, because as soon as I came back from my one and only triumph, Al and Mean Asian Girl were both all, “Well, duh, it’s a Bjork album!” (“But isn’t that pronounced.. vesper-TEEN?”) AND I DO NOT KNOW FROM BJORK! It’s well-documented that I’m pop culture illiterate beyond 1994! I got that all by my very own recovering Catholic self!
So, yeah. “Vespertine” was Round 1. 40-odd out of 60-odd competitors were eliminated in Round 1, so I can feel pretty good about clearing that one, right? Though I must admit, more than anything, it was the luck of the draw. There were words in Round 1 I didn’t know at all, so if I’d gotten those, it would have been game over. And there was only one word all night (“acetylene” — pronounced “UH-SET-UH-LIN”; again, technically correct, but not goddamned Amurrican) I recognized as something I probably would have kicked my own ass over, because I DO know how to spell it, but I might not have gotten it right on my first try out loud. (The person who got that word went, “A-S-” and the entire room went “AWWWWWW!” I wouldn’t have been that bad, at least. But I might well have gone, “A-C-E-T-E-L-Y-N-E.”) For the most part, I either knew how to spell the words or had never heard them before in my life.
But seriously, y’all, HO-MUH-LEE? For “homely”? What the fuck is that? Immediately prior to that, someone went out on “debouchment,” which was pronounced “DUH-BYOOSH-MENT.” That person asked for a definition, which included the word “mouth” (of a river), so I figured it was “bouch(e)” not “buch,” but how the fuck do you get “byoosh” out of “bouche”? (I probably would have gone out on that word, too, by spelling it “debouchement,” but the BYOOSH was fucking unforgivable!) I HATE YOU, PRONOUNCER LADY!
The worst part, of course, was being able to spell, like, every fucking word that came after I was eliminated. Mean Asian Girl and I sat there, far enough away from the stage that we couldn’t be accused of helping people cheat, spelling every fucking word before the actual remaining contestants got them. GRRRRRR. The only gratifying part after being eliminated (besides a complimentary drink) was seeing my very young, stoner ex-neighbor finally eliminated, after three rounds of lucking the hell out with words like “sophomore” and “umlaut.” (The latter pronounced “OOM-LOT.”) We left immediately after that, so I don’t know who won. I just got very drunk and kept saying, “HOMELY! HOME-LEE!” all night. (Al, eventually: “Okay, honey, YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THE LOUD JUICE NOW!” Mean Asian Girl: “‘Cause she’s normally so subtle??”)
I hate spelling bees. And I’m very drunk. That is all.