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I overheard the most heartbreaking exchange yesterday. Well, it's not like I was eavesdropping, exactly. It happened right in front of me, while I was enjoying a beer and some lunch at the bar of one of my favorite local haunts. I posted the punchline yesterday by itself on Twitter, but I'm growing more and more dissatisfied with the constraints of Twitter and the way it tends to short-circuit my intent to blog. (But that's a subject for another post.) I think there's far more pathos in the full story.

I was reading a book so I wasn't paying much attention to the conversation between the guy to my left and one of the bartenders. "Hey," the bartender called to one of her colleagues, "how do you spell aesthetically?"

To my right, another bartender stalked over, grabbed a slip of paper and a pen from behind the bar, and scrawled something.

"Now we'll have to decipher his writing," said the first bartender.

The second bartender, a hipster in his late twenties, slapped the paper down in front of the patron. I craned my neck a little. With the jagged scrawl it was hard to be sure, but the spelling looked correct to me.

"Why'd he write it?" asked the patron.

The second bartender, returning to his station, said over his shoulder, "I lost a school-wide spelling bee in the seventh grade. Ever since then, I can't spell without stuttering."

I wanted to reach over the bar and give the guy a hug and tell him I understood. My father drilled me endlessly on spelling bee words when I was a kid, but I still managed to choke in the clutch nearly every time. Why is that so humiliating? At least I might have said something.

But instead I tweeted and went back to my book. Internet 1, humanity 0.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/534152.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on September 19, 2011 10:09 AM.

When worlds collide was the previous entry in this blog.

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