Sunday, 21 September 2014



Scrabble Punk


Language. It articulates our thoughts even though we can speak without thinking. We can talk to one another and still misunderstand each other. And we’ve figured out ways to visibly express these dedicated abstract sounds, write sentences. Words are the gears of language.


Words are wonderful constructs. Words are weapons in a game of Scrabble. In our house, our fine home with two tabbies in the yard, the game box is on a chair in the dining room. It is never put away. We try to play at least once a week. When we do the stereo is always on and we alternate the music selections so Lou Reed could follow Guy Clark; we’re desperados doin’ the things that we want to. I’m not competitive by nature and I don’t really keep track of such things but over the course of our last 50 games Ann is up something like 44-6. I am her Scrabble punk.


In current parlance, I am Ann’s Scrabble bitch as punk has lost its original meaning of being a sore-assed prison weakling. Bitch of course has been dogged by its own 99 misogynistic usage problems. Ann is a keen and ruthless TRIPLE WORD SCORE Scrabble player and losing to her is a bitch but she is not one.


While there are rules pertaining to usage, words may mesh in so many marvelous manners. Some words are so wonderful that they’re able to convey their meaning even if the listener or the reader is ignorant of their exact definition. Anthrax is a good example; it sounds and reads like something to fear, its black and yellow danger stripes are innate. Some words boast two or even three totally different definitions depending upon their context. The meanings of other words have altered over time.


We do the Saturday and Sunday New York Times crosswords together. I’m a little better than she is as Ann is still a novice with the nuances of the clues: puns, punctuation and abbreviations are crucial keys to successfully completing the puzzles. After we inked in SKOSH this morning my first thought was, ‘Oh fuck. The K is worth five points and the H is worth four and she’s already memorized the word.’


Our latest Scrabble tilt was Friday night. I went first and BLURTed out a solid lead and never looked back. Didn’t need a plan B for the two blank tiles nor Q, X, Y and Z. Tagged on to existing words to create tenses or new ones. Filled in some gaps like squares on a crossword grid. Read ‘em and weep. I scored like Guy Lafleur and Mick Jagger combined. We’d listened to Deacon Blue and Simple Minds, acknowledging the Scottish referendum and Ann’s heritage.


Shortly before midnight I stepped out onto the front porch. The tally had been taken. Beyond the roof tops and the tips of the buckeyes, birches and firs were thousands of imaginary adoring fans. I waved. Tapped my heart. Tipped my cap. Took a bow. I smiled. Waved again. Grinned. Opened a beer and toasted the world. Lit a cigarette and just basked in the adulation.

Ann had no words.

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