Do You Know the Way to Cupertino?

 I just watched the National Spelling Bee and was mesmerized, no, the correct word is shamed, by the contest’s youngest-ever entrant, six-year-old Edith. She and her bouncy, blonde curls made it all the way to round three before being eliminated.

At our grade-school spelling bee I was always eliminated in the first round. I could never remember which letters were doubled or if it was supposed to be “intro” or “intra.” And to this day I still have to recite, “I before E except after C.” That’s why I rely so heavily on my computer’s Spell Checker to correct my spelling before my words go out into the world and embarrass me. Which, ironically, is one of those words I can’t spell. When I use Spell Check—that magical I-won’t-let-you-look-like-an-idiot feature, I only have to type in a close approximation of a troublesome word and a box comes up with alternate suggestions. And strangely, looking at the choices, I can tell which one is spelled right.

Spell Check became my best friend. But it also became my worst enemy when, one day, it said, “I’m tired of fixing your stupid-ass mistakes. Let’s have some fun.”

So, when I wanted the word insinuated, as in, “He insinuated his way into the conversation.” I got this cringe-worthy, “He inseminated his way into the conversation.” “He wore a satisfied grin,” became “He wore a sausage grin.” I can’t even picture that. My sheets didn’t feel satiny; they felt satanic. And my protagonist didn’t vehemently disagree; he lecherously disagreed. Really? Now you’re just messing with me, because that’s not even close.

With the aid of Spell Check’s sardonic wit, my protagonist didn’t kiss under the mistletoe, but under the cameltoe. That must have been cramped. My New York socialite changed theologies and became a New York socialist. And Spell Check—that great kidder—slyly altered a recipe ingredient so that you didn’t add prosciutto, you added a prostitute. The recipe might not have worked, but I doubt my husband would have cared.

I knew I couldn’t be the only one with this problem, so I consulted an expert—Dr. Google—and it seems this happens so often it has a name: The Cupertino Effect, named for this actual error that got printed.

“Co-ordination with the World Bank will be particularly important in the area of trade facilitation and shall be conducted through direct Cupertino.” Although direct cooperation would have been better.

And Spell Check’s worst offense is when you know a word is spelled wrong, but you haven’t a clue how to fix, and Spell Check just flashes an empty box that says, “Hey, don’t look at me. I got nothing.”

Of course, I look at you. I depend on you. But you’ve proven yourself an unreliable partner. What else can I do except take a lesson from six-year-old Edith. I mean, literally, take spelling lessons from 6-year-old Edith.

I wonder if I’d be breaking any child labor laws.