So I’ll wait with my poker face on while she deliberates whether it’s safe to stretch her word far enough into the double word zone but with a letter I may not be able to stretch into a triple later. To play the S or not to play the S, that is a question. Also, how many Ds are there in the game? You could count them up and roll the dice accordingly. Well, we don’t use dice but it’s an idea. Perhaps a Magic 8 Ball would come in handy once in a while. So she’ll put the word out there and maybe it’s only because it was “a really cool word” and it had to be played, points or no points. Yep, it’s a really cool word all right. Too bad I’m going to roll right over the top of it and play my X word into the red territory and pull into the lead by 30 points. Ha.
“Cheater.” Spoken softly through clenched teeth and with eyes slitted sideways at me.
“I know.” Carefree. Confident. True. I had looked up every X word variable and stumbled onto this one. Research pays off.
“What does it mean?”
“An African unit of money.”
“I don’t know how you sleep at night.”
And so the tension mounts, as much from our surroundings as from the slowly filling board. We have to keep vigilant peripheral vision to stop a crawling or stumbling child from landing on the board (we usually play on the floor with cushions) and if someone needs the facilities or to grab a coffee refill, the other is bound to keep her hands off the tiles. And no peeking on the other gal’s tray either. Years ago we decided that really cheating for goodness sake was no fun at all. When the game ends and you realize there are eight blanks played, you know you’ve been duped and neither your victory nor your defeat is worth much.
“Argh!! There is nothing on my tray but junk!”
“I’ll sell you a vowel. I’ve got four Es.”
“Too bad you have the Q. And the J, I’m sure.”
“That just means I’m getting all the points. Too bad you’re gonna lose again.”
“Seriously, I’ll give you a hundred bucks for a T if you got one.”
Our games last about an hour give or take. We rarely have to prod each other on to make a move. The closer to the end of the game you get, the trickier the moves have to be, especially if the score is even. We’ve each made up a 50 point deficit and both know the joy of going from underdog to top dog in the end. Anything is possible, and somehow attitude is a major component of if and when fickle lady luck decides to join your side.
Don’t give us a chess board or Stratego or invite us over for a game of poker. We can’t count, we don’t need to think more than one step ahead, and if we are interrupted twenty times in the hour, you wouldn’t expect us to be able to play anything in a straight line. We tried the online scrabble game, the ones in phones and one on Facebook. Once in a while we gather a crowd and really cut loose with a game of Take Two. But it’s just not the same. No one else can quite grasp the sentiment.
“That is SO not a word.”
“A rubber-soled cloth shoe. From Norway.”
“Oh whatever. Can you add an -ER to it?”
“Because then the shoe is shoeier?”
The notebook has a few blank pages left in it. Maybe if we could get together more than a couple times a year it would go faster, but we’re patient people. And I need to add more words to the Dictionary.