He was new to the neighborhood, so I thought I’d welcome him to Shepard Lane with an apple pie. His eyes lit up with delight as he called his wife into the room to admire my gift. They were a pleasant couple and we promised to become better acquainted, as we drank coffee and ate my pie. Such a nice couple.
A couple of days later, he knocked on my door. He had a question. He said it was a stupid question. Since those are the only kind I can answer, I said, “Go ahead; ask it.” It was about the name of our street, Shepard Lane. “Isn’t Shepard spelled wrong?”
It took me a minute to think. “Oh! You don’t know. Shepard Lane is named after Alan Shepard--the first man to walk on the moon. All the streets in this development tract are named after astronauts.” His face turned light pink; I had embarrassed him. But he chuckled and I went on to name some of the other streets: Glenn for John Glenn, Grissom Circle for Gus Grissom, etc. But he was correct. Shepard is spelled wrong if you meant the person who herds sheep.
His question had rattled my memory. I was in the sixth-grade spelling bee. I was the class’ best speller, but I hadn’t won any spelling bees. Every year, since third grade, my class had a spelling bee. I never won. This drove me crazy. If life were fair, I would win, since I always got 100% on spelling tests. I truly was the best speller in the class, in the grade, and I bet the whole school! Why wasn’t I winning? Everybody must be studying. Maybe I should study, too. But why? I don’t need to.
These were my thoughts as the spelling bee progressed. I really wasn’t paying too much attention because I was too busy wallowing in the injustice of losing what I considered my due. I vaguely heard the boy next to me received the word, “shepherd.” But he went down. Uh, oh. How did he spell it? I wasn’t paying attention. Now I have it. It was repeated. I gulped and spelled