Tuesday, March 30, 2021

My brain on Scrabble

He's in the Scrabble Dictionary,
 it's short for education.

For at least as long as my wife of 30-odd years Helena has known me, my brother Ed's been coming around and we play Scrabble.

I almost always win. It's not because I know a lot of big words (and I do!) or that I am particularly adept at seeing patterns of letters. It's just that I keep score.

Ed has a head for numbers and Helena has a masters degree in science from the University of Toronto, but whenever we sit around the Scrabble board, they leave the scorekeeping and math doing to me

And they've never challenged my work.

As for me knowing big words, I think you'd be impressed by some of the language I get to use at my job editing at a magazine for lawyers. I deal with words like tortuous and sequelae and appellate but do you think I can remember any of them when Helena and Ed and I sit down to play Scrabble?
Is how many years we three have been

The nanosecond we start dealing out the little tiles, my brain goes into Scrabble mode and it's all I can do to come up with ALLEY or  TRIAL and  I forget how to spell THEIR and NEITHER. 

My noggin, when we're playing Scrabble, is like some people I used to know who, no matter how old they were, as soon as they went to visit their parents, turned into little children again. They forget how to turn on the stove or check the cat's dish. My brain on Scrabble is a 40-year-old man getting his engine oil checked by his 75-year-old dad.

But still I win because Eddie and Helena couldn't be bothered to a: keep score; b: check my math or c: give a hoot.

All we care about is being clever and using the Double Word and Triple Word spaces first.

It is, I believe a mortal sin, to not try with all your might to use up the Triple Word spaces, no matter how weak your word is. It's like Easter Duty. 

Every old fashioned Roman Catholic knows that if you don't go to Confession at least once a year, you've failed to do your Easter Duty. On the sin scale, it's nuclear.

The late word genius George Carlin had a skit about quizzing your parish priest about Easter Duty.  "Hey Fadda! Hey Fadda! Is it a sin if you're on a ship at sea? And it's January thirty first? And you still haven't made your Easter Duty? And then it's one minute past midnight? But then you cross the international date line?"

Where was I? 

Oh, right. Not doing your utmost to use Scrabble bonus spots is a sin. 

Last Saturday I was very proud of myself because I ended our game in a manner that will have other Scrabble addicts standing up and clapping.

Usually towards the end of the night I mean game, you're down to EON and PERT, and all the fancy stuff is over with. But this Saturday past, Eddie and Helena and I were at the three-or-four-letters- remaining stage, but the bottom right Triple Word box was still vacant.. 

INTERNE: Who knew?
I nailed it. 

Not with a lame DUCK (see what I did there?) or a wussy, like,  CLEAR. 

But SHOWY. SHOWY! 42 points! Scrabble should have exclamation marks for pizazz like that. 

Pizazz incidentally, is in our trusty Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, which is what we turn to religiously if there's a dispute. It's good to have on hand, like a calm and unbiased referee.

Inasmuch as I like that old book, it might be time for an upgrade.

Pizazz is there, but internet's not. 

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