I am 11. I’m a contestant in a nationally televised French spelling bee. Along with my competitors, I am coaxed by a producer to run onto the stage shaking my hands over my head and yelling “Ouai!” A day earlier, my favourite show ended its nine season run, but I missed the finale because I was at a Montreal Canadiens playoff game holding a sign that read, “I would rather be here than watching Seinfeld”. The sign does not grab the attention of a CBC cameraman, although I do hope that RDS viewers may have seen it. I am eliminated in the first round, but the bright lights confuse me and I hold on hope that I’m still in the running for a bit too long.
All participants are sent away with a bag of swag, and I use the backpack as my bookbag for the rest of the school year. The following September, I find the knapsack, unopened since June, under the stairs. Its putridity immediately emerges, and I attribute this to a family of rats that lived and died within the confines of the forest green bag over the summer. However, after careful examination, it becomes clear that I’d left a single kiwi fruit in it for several months, and this is the true source of the stench. The bag is cautiously disposed of, and it takes me years to eat another kiwi.