Scrabble Babble


Thursday July 17th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I think I am finally ready for old age – that or a long prison term. I have found the activity that is going to keep my brain occupied for the rest of my days on this out of control little planet. I’m hooked for life, and if there’s a rehab program I don’t want to participate. “It” is online Scrabble.

I have loved words and word games since my earliest memory. My grandfather would work on the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper, and as I got older I would help – or at least make an effort. I didn’t solve many clues at first, but in time I got better and learned to enjoy the process.

Gramps never played Scrabble, but I had an uncle that introduced me to it at a young age albeit under unusual circumstances. My wacky aunt would always want to play, and she was a piece of work to say the least. She eventually caused us to bend the rules, and allow for trading of letters.

I’m sure that’s not the first time additional homemade rules have been implemented to a board game, but even that didn’t help my Aunt Charlene. She would always find a way to get into a big argument with my uncle, and it put everybody on edge. Still, I grew to adore the game anyway.

I had never heard of a Scrabble club before I moved to Lansing, MI in 1990 to take my first job in radio, but I was fascinated with the idea. The club met on Saturday mornings, with most of the members being women quite a bit older than me. I was 26 then, and they saw me as fresh meat.

They would bring assorted home baked goodies to share with the group, and many would bring craft projects to knit or crochet during the games. On the surface they didn’t look like a school of bloodthirsty sharks, but then I’d sit down and get shredded flesh handed to me week after week.

Wow, were they cold blooded. They would beat me like Ike Turner beat Tina, and never break a sweat. They’d keep on knitting and crocheting, and the grandmotherly smile would never leave their face for a second. Try as I might, I don’t think I ever won even one game. They crushed me.

I only went a few times, but I had a fresh respect for how much I needed to learn and how good someone could get at a game I thought I was already good at. They were on a level I hadn’t even conceived of, but it also made me want to improve. I have played whenever I could since then.

I can’t believe it took me this long to discover there was an entire online community of players, but I have now become one of them. I am hooked. It’s only been a couple of months, but I can’t see myself ever getting sick of playing. I do it whenever it’s convenient, and I don’t have to play an entire game if I don’t want to. But if I do, I can play as many games as I want at a single time.

Just like with the Scrabble club in Lansing, at first I was finding myself getting torched with an alarming degree of regularity. It was discouraging, but I knew I’d get better if I hung in there and that’s what I’ve done. Now I’m starting to win games regularly, and I can feel myself improving.

My two most regular opponents have been Bill Gorgo and Kristie Dickinson. They are terrific players that consistently kicked me around for weeks, but now I’m starting to win a few and they don’t like it. It’s a super challenge, and I’m never bored. I have found my passion for the future.

Anybody want to play Scrabble? I'm hooked for life.

Anybody want to play Scrabble? I’m hooked.

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