Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I think I've sounded this theme often, but I'll reiterate in case you've not been taking notes: I don't like games. Board games are boring. I would always rather read. I might even prefer organizing Lindsay's recipes into clear plastic binders, or cleaning the birdcage. Anything else.

But if I must play a game, I always choose Scrabble. Not this Facebook phone stuff that Alec Baldwin seems to enjoy so much; I'm as baffled by that when I see it cluttering my FB feed as I am by those games about jewelry and farm animals. Don't try to tell me how great it is, how addictive if you're a wordsmithy-type person—cuz I'd be too busy reading novels on my phone.

The last adult I played Scrabble with was Lindsay. We were rusticating in Tobago, in a very austere cottage with lots of interesting insects and not a lot of intact mosquito netting. There was no nightlife to speak of; or at least not where a couple of Americans would feel welcome some six months after 9/11. We dined on the same fish special at the only restaurant in town every night. The service was grudging, if not hostile. When we revealed ourselves to be New Yorkers, we were grilled on our 9/11 experiences and informed that the whole thing was an American conspiracy, if it had even happened it all, which we assured everyone it did, since we were eyewitnesses, but they weren't impressed. (Later we'd learn that Hugo Chavez had found refuge in Tobago after a brief coup at the same time we were there. Like I said, Americans weren't too popular then—I wonder if anything's changed.)

Given the circumstances, then, what choice did we have but to hang out in our cabin each evening, with a couple of genial stray dogs for company, drink gin and tonics and play game after game of Scrabble while tropical rain pelted the rooftop? A lovely Scrabble memory, except that maybe Lindsay vowed never to play with me again because I was "too cutthroat" and a "sore loser." Or something like that.

So I didn't play until my kids got old enough to string some letters together and call it a word, and then to string some words together and call it a sentence. Have you ever seen the Scrabble Sentence Game for Juniors? Well, like most games made in 1973, it's pretty awesome (and there's plenty available on eBay for around 10 bucks). Like Scrabble for Juniors, the board has an easy side and an advanced side: The easy side just requires simple matching (good for learning sight words) and the hard side encourages the drolleries of fledgling Becketts, as you can craft all manner of absurd one-liners. If there's a scrabbulous or words-for-friends-like app for that, I might actually consider getting it for my kids.

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