It’s always the last place you look, but I swear I’ve looked everywhere, and yet my spelling ability eludes me.
I was a good speller once. Not win-a-spelling-bee good, but good enough to write comfortably without having to look up a lot of words. A few were always a problem, like succumbed. I spelled it succombed and wondered why it looked wrong. This was before the days of squiggly red underlines on screen to let you know that you’ve committed an error.
Even while playing Boggle, where the words are usually not very long (although a long one can be worth 11 points!), I have to stop and think: “Is it FUEL or FEUL? OK. I see it now. The former is right. But why did it take me a second to realize it? A number of words cause me to pause—words that I knew so well before. Before what? Before I became a senior citizen, that’s what!
I learned long ago that the ability to spell may be an in-born trait. I’ve known brilliant people who had trouble with spelling and had to have a dictionary nearby. (But there’s the obvious problem connected to the fact that you need to know how to spell a word to look it up.) I considered myself lucky because I had an innate ability to spell most everyday words. For new or technology-specific words, I learned to spell them shortly after I was introduced to them. For example, when I started at my company (36 years ago…where did the time go?), I was an editorial assistant and had to learn unfamiliar terms like “stoichiometric” and “molybdenum.” (And don’t think I didn’t have to look them up just now…)
I did promise you a reward if you found my long-lost ability to spell. I doubt that I’ll ever have to pay up, but if you do locate it and get it back into my brain, I vow to be on call to help anytime you have a spelling question. Between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. And not on weekends or holidays. Or days beginning with a T. (This offer applies to only one- or two-syllable words.) You’re welcome.