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Brooklyn 'Slurring Bee' Adds Alcohol to Classic Competition

By Janet Upadhye | April 9, 2013 12:33pm | Updated on April 9, 2013 2:28pm

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — How do you spell I-N-E-B-R-I-A-T-E-D?

Just ask participants of Last Exit Bar's Slurring Bee competition. Spelling bees can be intimidating in the traditional form, but the Slurring Bee goes to new extremes in that participants must take a shot before each round. And spellers tend to go through phases during the competition — often starting with bravado and ending up somewhere else, says organizer Billy Parker.

The bee started in Brooklyn in April of 2012 and a year later boasts a crew of devoted followers, who will participate in the "Tournament of Champions" on April 16th, to mark their one-year Brooklyn anniversary.

"People who get really into Slurring Bee tend to become active participants in making it even more fun," said Parker. "Returning contestants have constructed bee costumes or even made bee-themed truffles to pass out."

Parker says the addition of booze to spelling has tripped up even the most confident of spellers.

"At first it calms the nerves, then it brings out a confidence where they're spelling words they didn't think they knew," he said. "And finally they're truly slurring and mixing up letters the same way you trip over your feet while trying to walk in a straight line at the end of the night."

Slurring Bee organizers don't want this competition to bring back bad memories of pigtails, parental pressure and misspelling "privilege" on a stage in front of your peers.

"We try to keep everything light, spelling bees have a way of haunting people," Parker said. "People see the words they got out on in their nightmares."

Still, it's a challenge. Some of the hardest rounds include words that even a sober person might have a hard time spelling such as Vichyssoise, Tchotchke, Aphaeretic, Scheherazade, and Daedal.

Contestants pay $10 to compete for the title of Queen Bee and $150 plus "an assortment of extra-special bee-themed prizes." For more information visit the Slurring Bee website.