Scrabble on, Word Nerds!

Friday! And though that doesn't mean much to me in terms of the weekend because I pretty much work seven days a week, I do look forward to the Friday night thing Gary and I have settled into. Sometime around six or seven, he'll nudge me out of my office and take me over to Wunsche Brothers Cafe in Old Town Spring for Shiner Bock and Scrabble. The banter is pleasant, the beer is cold, and there's always a local folkie onstage to serenade us as we engage in a battle of wills and words.

Gary bought our first Scrabble game at a second hand store about a week after we met, which was twenty-five years ago this Groundhog's Day, and we used that same dilapidated brown box set until our teenage kids gave us a snazzy Deluxe version a couple of Christmases ago. (The board spins. The letters reside in a black velvet bag. Very upscale.)

During the mid-80s, we spent several months living on this fire lookout tower between Mt. Shasta and the Trinity Alps in northern California. (Look closely, you'll see it there. It wasn't always that snowy.) We were up there to spot forest fires, but we somehow got assigned to live amongst the asbestos trees, so that didn't happen very often. Mostly, we played Scrabble. One of us got up and looked out the window every five or six words. (Your tax dollars at work!) So suffice it to say, the old man and I have played a LOT of Scrabble.

Gary is a guns-drawn, go-for-the-seven-letter-jugular kind of Scrabble player. He has his offensive strategy. He has his defensive strategy, which I find more offensive than the offensive strategy, because it's so dang dog-in-the-manger. He'd cut off his pinkie finger and lay it on the board before he'd open up a potential triple word score for someone else. If he sees my eyes drifting to a certain area, he slams it with some hideous hammer of Habakkuk that can't be worked off of. He agonizes over every word, especially if he's losing. I don't know if he's concentrating or just hoping that while he's sitting there pondering I'll drink several more beers and fall asleep.

Me, I'm very zen about it. I just lay down the first word that speaks to me. I will always make the word "love" if I have it, even if I could make more points with something else. Same for "peace". I just like the look of those words hanging out, intersecting with "ovulate" and "bobcat" and "evermore" or whatever. I think the tile gods look favorably upon this MO because the wins are pretty evenly split, and the losses are never too humiliating. Scrabble is one of the many ways in which the Gare Bear and I are well matched.

Over the years, we've developed some interesting variations on the game, and I will share those with you now, just in case your plans to actually have a life tonight fall through and you decide to join us in the joy of wordplay.

ScreeAAAAble! (Say it out loud. It's fun.)
This is a balls-out Scrab-tacular throw-down in which the rules can be changed at any time, but only by Mom. Because...well, because I said so! If Mom calls "All slates to the left!", players have to pass their letters around the table until Mom gets a slate she likes. If a younger player needs a little leg-up, Mom is free to say something like "STINK is now worth 75 points!" If an older player is getting cocky, Mom can call "No words containing the letters E, A, or O!" You get the picture.

Fu-abble
Same play as usual, but the F-word is worth 100 points.

Scrabblatorium
Words may not be recognizable from the accepted American English lexicon, but they have to make sense phonetically and have a root that makes sense with a definition supplied by the player. Example: tricampulation; noun, the arrangement of pop-up trailers in a three-sided configuration. Or how about embiblify; verb, to render bibbed, as a baby, for the consumption of messy foods.

Strip Scrabble
Self explanatory. (Two players only.)

Comments

Y'know, I *thought* I wanted to play you too sometime, but now I'm officially freaked. Not only about the rule variations, but...

Fat nude writing is *one* thing. I'm not going there for board games. :)

You remind me of the *real* way I learned grammar. Parts of speech always bounced off my head until some teenaged friends taught me the trick of playing Mad Libs using only vulgar or obscene words.

Suddenly, parts of speech became so much more relevant! Somehow, though, this activity loses its luster after adolescence!
Suzan Harden said…
Ah, come on, Colleen! Fat, nude Scrabble is right up there with strip Nintendo.
LOL, Suzan!
Wendy said…
Joni,
Terrific post, but now I'm worried. And with Suzan's suggestion of nude Scrabble, well...
I don't play the game, so you might be wondering why I'm worried. Last week, I gave my daughter's boyfriend a travel scrabble gameboard for his birthday.