I’m visiting my son and his family in Nome, Alaska, and what in the world do you do in Nome when it is dark and cold? Play Scrabble, of course, and I used to be a whiz, knocking off my inferior opponents with a flurry of words that only we geriatrics know. My kids dared not to challenge me because they knew their mother had a great vocabulary (English teachers do, you know) and would never lie about a word’s spelling or usage and if I said it was a word, by cracky, it was a word. No questions asked. I became the matriarch of Scrabble, and seldom, if ever, lost. My kids thought I was a genius and who would tell them different?
I haven’t played Scrabble in a while, but as a writer, my vocabulary has gotten better, not worse, and last night I sat down to whip the daylights out of my son and daughter-in-law. I knew they would be impressed with my enhanced knowledge of words that started with “J,” “Q,” or “X,” and I would retain their admiration for all these words…like qindarka (an Albanian unit of currency), or jacamar (some sort of bird), or exarch (another name for a bishop or something). I extracted these words out of my brain and my kids were in awe of my vocabulary, but after I beat the pants off them in game one, my smart aleck daughter-in-law pulled out her iPhone, found the Scrabble app, and challenged every word I played, and soon she was laughing. “No such word, Grandma,” she said time and time again. She was delighted, I could tell. I was horrified.
“What? I’ve always used “fi” for a word,” I pleaded. “When did it become not a word? The iPhone is wrong, it doesn’t know all the words that I know. I’ve always used “fi,” and no one has ever complained before. Don’t I get any leeway for being the Scrabble matriarch?”
They chorused with a resounding “NO,” and I had to hang my head in shame. How could I be wrong about a two-letter word? “Fi,” must be a word, because after all, my son had just slapped down “ru” for 21 points, as he combined it with other words on a triple word space, giving him a resounding victory over his Scrabble-loving mother.
As it turns out, since we last played, my nerdish son memorized all 86 of the English language two-letter words and can roll them off his tongue faster than Superman can fly. He says “ch” is a word, but it isn’t listed in my 1980 Official Scrabble Dictionary. Since when can you have a word without a vowel, except for “sh,” of course?
I am bewildered at how my matriarchal Scrabble status can be in question, but tonight, I’m gonna put on my Marine Corps t-shirt, lace up my Mickey Mouse boots, and hide my daughter-in-law’s iPhone. I’ll find a new and improved Scrabble app for my phone and take them on again. In the meantime, I’ll keep “kex” and” quipu” under my hat, just in case.
If you enjoy Wrinkly Bits, please share!
You can join more Wrinkly Bits fun on Facebook at wrinklybits+ or "Cruise Time" Fans' Alaska Cruise