I Will Never Spell “Woah” Correctly & You Can’t Make Me

I don’t know where I picked up this quirk. 

I’ve spelled “woah” like this as long as I can remember knowing that word. 

Did I read this in a book? I must have, that is where I learned most of my vocabulary?

It just looks infinitely better than “Whoa” in my brain. More contained. 

In the “proper” spelling, it doesn’t even look like a full word to me. 

It’s unfinished. 

Sound it out. 

Go on, do it out loud. 

Sound out “Whoa”

Comes out “Who-a” in my brain. Not my intended interjection ever. 

Now, sound out “woah”.

Sounds like Keanu, right?!

It does in my brain. 

But also, it sounds like this…game… we used to play in the pool when I was in middle school. 

Well, game isn’t really the right word. Let me explain. 

Picture this: 

The backyard of a red two-story home in Ireland-themed neighborhood in Gwinnett County, Georgia. 

It is summertime. 

There is an in-ground pool, but upon reflection it may have just been an above ground pool that we built a hill around. 

Regardless, there was a slide. It was not orange, like the one pictured above, but blue and fiberglass, as home pool slides were in the 80s. 

Three people are frolicking in the water:


My younger brother


My best friend Billy. 

Billy is the first non-family-member who got the real, unfiltered (at that time, middle school) me. 

And now he gets my apologies for that, because, from what I can remember from those days… I was a LOT. And I didn’t contain that A LOT with him. 

We did ridiculous things.

Nightly singing contests on the phone that would go on for hours. 

Painted the same fake movie posters over and over for movies like “Camp” (it was a horror movie, obv), “Clouds” (my brother’s elementary school biography), or “We’re All the Same Color Inside”. 

Held talent shows on his trampoline.

Filmed fake commercials for made up jewelry companies and Mountain Dew for some reason. 

Played “Hide and Go Koosh” whenever we had the chance. 

Started a rollercoaster lovers group called “The Thrill Seekers Club”. 

We learned to airbrush. 

Then we made “Thrill Seekers Club” t-shirts. 

It was not easy.

They were not cute. 

But both members of the club wore them to Six Flags Over Georgia. All the time. 

We cooled down at the Chevy Show, balanced dimes on our knees while riding Free Fall and sat on opposite sides of the Flying Dutchman and had screaming contests. 

We also spent a lot of time in the pool in our backyard. 

Most of it was spent either playing Categories or holding a classic Pool Olympics competition. 

You know the Pool Olympics, right?

Obviously, my underwater floor exercise routine was to the “Beetlejuice” soundtrack and there were a LOT of handstands. My pool wall balance beam routine was so graceful it would make you cry. My deep end stairs uneven bars were energetic and full of spunk. But I really shone in the freestyle pool entry event.

I would almost always do a jackknife. 

Look once I learned how to do that, it was impossible to stop me.

Billy, though, Billy almost always used the slide for the freestyle pool entry category. You know, going for the humor vote. 

(my dad was a sucker for physical comedy)

So we spent a lot of time doing that, but also I remember playing this strange game with Billy and my younger brother where one of us would stand at the top of the slide looking down into the pool, waiting to slide in. 

While they were up there, the other two would be in the pool, treading water underneath the slide, while waving our arms and bellowing for all the world to hear, “NO-AH, YOU CANNOT GO-AH” over and over and over again. 

I don’t remember how the person at the top of the slide got into the pool. I don’t know if there was a points system. I don’t even know if there was a way to win. 

But I can hear our voices, together, yelling “NO-AH, YOU CANNOT GO-AH” clear as a bell in my head. 

So maybe that’s why I spell ‘woah’ the way I do. 


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