The other night I was a celebrity speller at “Let It Bee,” a spelling bee benefit for [clmp] that was MC’d by literary agent Ira Silverberg.
And I managed to bring the whole level of the room — and in fact all of literature — down in just a few salty moments.
First off, I demanded “penis” for my word, to which Silverberg sardonically countered, “buttplug.” “OK, buttplug,” I replied. “I-R-A S-I-L-V-E-R-B-E-R-G.”
I then cracked that I had fucked his husband, who wasn’t on assignment in Brazil after all, he was hanging out at a gay sex club down the block. The audience tittered, but the other spellers — big-time novelists and publishers — were quietly texting, clearly plotting their way out of there.
And then came my word. It wasn’t penis, alas. It was “dirndl.” Something they wear in the Alps, apparently. I replied that it sounded a little like “Yentl” and therefore probably had no vowels towards the end. I was right about that, but unfortunately I was wrong about the vowel in the beginning. I spelled it D-E-R-N-D-L. Buzz!
Last year, I was given another fashion word — “eyelet” — and spelled it “islet.” Oy.
Well, Silverberg got the last word this time, telling the crowd, “Michael USED to know something about fashion.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 28, 2009