Thursday, May 19, 2011

Addicted to Scrabble

It feels like all my life, I’ve carried a Scrabble board under my arm, looking for someone to play with. It’s a lonely feeling when you cant find a Scrabble partner—kind of like knowing a language that no one else will speak to you in.

“Will you play with me?” I beg my husband.

He shudders. “No. I can’t stand the game. And I don’t want to play any game with you, you’re too competitive.”

“That’s why it’s called a game…it is meant to be competitive,” I huff and walk off.

“Will you play with me?” I beg my eight-year-old.

“No, Amma, you never let me win,” she says.

“If someone “lets” you win, it’s not winning at all,” I try to explain to her but I can see I’ve lost her attention.

“Do you play Scrabble?” I’ve asked friends, acquaintances, relatives… their responses have not been encouraging.

“I have better things to do.” (What could be better than Scrabble?)

“No, but since you have time, I need your help with this other thing…” (Run!)

“I can’t play now, my drama is on.” (You prefer to watch a Zee-TV Soap about redundantly hysterical saas-bahu relationships over the queen of games? I pity you. But more, I pity myself for being in the same err…country as you.)

Deprived as I’ve been, you can imagine, therefore, why, when I found “Facebook Scrabble for Users of the World excluding the USA and Canada” I went a little overboard, playing over a hundred games in the first 4 days alone.

“Have you been crying?” my husband’s uncharacteristic concern at the breakfast table, as he attempted to peer into the puffy slits that were once my eyes, caught me off guard.

“No. Why?” I asked stupidly. Of course I didn’t want to tell him that I’d been up playing till 5:30 a.m. but his suspicions were roused. The next time I sat at the laptop, he crept up behind me.

“Who’re you playing with?” he barked, peering over my shoulder at the screen.

“Sagar from India. Check out his tattoo,” I said, careful to hide the laughter from my voice.

“Great. Have fun,” he said, equally careful to hide the irritation from his, but I wasn’t fooled.

“Amma just finished playing with Anna, Bilal, Christopher and Pauline,” piped up my daughter. Her favorite activity now is settle down next to me and size up various Scrabble opponents from their thumbnail profile pic, begging me to open up their Facebook pages so she can have a better look. “They all lost except Pauline.”

“How many games has your Amma played today?” he asker her.
“Many, many,” came the traitorous reply. “She’s been playing since I came home from school.”
Yes, I’ll admit it openly, I’m addicted. Just like I’m addicted to carbs and flossing and other generally good things.

On a serious note, Scrabbling has opened up a whole new world for me. For instance, I can tell tons about a person by the way they play Scrabble. Do they generously open up the game, with six-letter words that blaze brave new trails across the board? Do they risk allowing you to score by opening up a “red” triple-word score space? Contrary to belief, these are not necessarily marks of the gullible player, but of the true sportsman. Also contrary to belief: taking risks that open up the game doesn’t mean your partner will win (he needs skill and the right tiles for that)—but it certainly means it will be a better, more interesting game. There are players whose words will conservatively hug yours, scared that if their letters foray into open space, you’ll rob all the double-word score spaces and win. These are the players who’ll jeopardize any chance you could have at a triple word score by making a three letter word that blacks the space forever (Small hearted player:If I cant score this, neither shall you! Me: I’m going to whup your ass anyway. Watch yourself loooose.)

About a hundred matches into the game, I’m realizing that I’ll never stop.

More on this later.