How to Make Me Cut You

Not too long ago I told you about my Facebook Scrabble obsession. Like most of my obsessions it flamed out after three or four weeks of compulsivity, three or four weeks where I had twenty games playing simultaneously with both friends and strangers, three or four weeks in which I rose in the publicly-displayed rankings; out of 400 friends, I placed second or third, depending on the day, an achievement that I will admit warmed my blood.

I have over 400 Facebook friends partly because I have my profile linked to the front page of this blog, and partly due to my low standards. One of these recent guys I’d never met, but I accepted his friend request nonetheless, and soon after he sent me an online invite to a Scrabble game. Yes, okay, I checked his ranking, which I found less than threatening. We started to play.

Now, I’ve played the real, in-person Scrabble many times over the years, usually with my dad, who retired after thirty years as an editor and who has consistently kicked my ass in each and every game, save the one we played when we last saw each other, when I added an R to his “TORQUE,” hitting the triple word square and sending me into paroxysms of poor-winner fist pumping.

In all the years we’ve played, I’ve only once seen Dad play a word using all seven letters. This move nets the player an additional 50 points, and catapults them to near-certain victory. So when this new “friend” played two seven-letter words in a row, my hackles raised.

You can’t cheat in face-to-face Scrabble, but online is a different story. Anyone, in the privacy of their home, can check a word in the dictionary. This cheat I will admit to using, but the second, more insidious form of cheating I try to avoid, for ethical reasons. The second form of cheating is the online word generator. Type in your given letters, and a split second later the generator spits out a list of possible words, 90% of which you could go your whole life never once hearing used in conversation.

I was willing to concede to my “friend” the first word he played, “FOUNDED.” But then he played “ATEMOYA.” I gave the screen the finger, but by now it was too late. If I tried to delete the game, it would count as a “loss” and my ranking would suffer. I had the suspicion that he’d targeted me for just that reason, but then I am prone to moments of grandiosity.

I decided that if I was going to lose, then at least I’d go down fighting. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I held back from accusing him and instead played the word “PHONIES.”

Then he really started spewing out the bullshit. “GLEEK,” BRIARY,” “AVOSET,” he played. In the end I lost by thirty-five points, and my Scrabble obsession came to an end.

A couple of days later he sent me another invite. “Hey sexy! How about a rematch?”

In most cases, when someone calls me sexy I will do whatever they want. Call it a moral blind spot. Curious, I clicked on the link which took me to the game. He’d played the first word, “CHUKARS.”

“You know,” I typed back. “I’ve got so many things on my plate right now. Don’t have time for Scrabble.”

“I hear you,” he replied. “I’m really busy too.”

Busy being a seven-letter whore, maybe. I ignored the game, and a few days later he tried to FORCE FORFEIT ME. Now, when you FORCE FORFEIT ME, you give me another loss, and that loss pulls down my ranking. I deleted the game.

Two days later: “Hey gorgeous, how about another game??”

I went to his profile and clicked “REMOVE,” whispering to his smarmy grin, “Bitch, don’t mess with my ranking.”

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