At Least I’m Almost a Genius

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I need to come up with one more word to be Genius level: overell, pevelon, renovel, lonovore? They should be words, but I know better.

I’ve been working on the Spelling Bee in The New York Times Magazine since I picked up the paper from my driveway Sunday morning. I like games with simple rules: words at least five letters long that must include the middle letter. One point each word. Use all 7 letters in one word, that’s three points. Using a letter more than once in a word is fine.

It’s unacceptable to be anything less than Genius rating. Good is for the illiterate. Excellent is next up the ladder, but not high enough. Genius is the only honorable position. When four of us are home, we all contribute words and leverage our advantage, and usually before the morning has passed we’re Genius. Proving once again the power of collaboration and teamwork.

When three of us are home, three of us work on the Spelling Bee. When there’s just two of us, we sometimes stretch into a second day or even a third before we make Genius, or very rarely, surrender.

Did I hear surrender? Here we are on Wednesday night. I’m alone at home this week and have eaten every meal at the counter searching for more words. The ‘V’ is the middle. Then you’ve got the R-E-L-N-O-P-R.

I got the seven-letter word this week—provolone—Sunday near sunset. Three points to my total. Sometimes there is more than one seven-letter word. If there is this week, I’ll be damned.

I’ve found some quality words: novel (of course), lovelorn, envelope. ‘Eleven’ was a recent find that almost escaped my grasp. I’m missing my teammates, although I also believe I should be able to fly this plane solo to geniushood.

Except I haven’t found a new word in almost 24 hours. Just one more measly word. I’ve already got perve, nerve, and verve. How about lerve, as a lecherous variation on love?

Eventually, I’ll have to settle for Excellent status, which this week only requires 19 points, but dammit I’m already at 28 of the 29 points I need to be Genius. Please! Can’t I conjure just one more word materialize from the beehive?

Later . . .

A genius word eludes me. I must admit failure and look at the answers.

No, not yet. Too often I look at the answers and: “I can’t believe I missed that word!” Or I’m outraged by an entry in the answer key: “That’s not a word!” Or: “How could they not have counted renovel? It’s a synonym for the 14th draft of a novel!”

I’m going to look at the beehive one more time. If a word doesn’t pop out at me right away, I’m giving up.

Much later . . .

Pevel? Lervo?

I finally look at the answers. Brilliant: I got envelope but not envelop. For some reason Mr. Writer thought they were both spelled with an e at the end, but pronounced differently. I missed evener. I missed rollover, popover, and plover, a word I didn’t know because it’s some kind of obscure shorebird.

Genius I’m not. So many are called, but few are chosen. I’ll live this week with Excellent.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.

Novels

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