Sun, Mar 18, 2018 02:33 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2004-01-16 communities
Smile Awhile
It's all in the game
Sara Hopson
When my son J.R. was nine years old, we used to play a board game called Life. The object of this game was to advance your (play) automobile throughout the board by throwing dice and landing on different squares that then told you what to do with your life. For instance, you first had to graduate from school before you could get married, have children, etc.

One time while we were playing, J.R. accomplished his life goals of graduating from college, securing a job, marrying, purchasing a house and having children, only to land on a square that told him he had gone bankrupt. I can still remember him yelling, "But I can't be bankrupt! I have a wife and two kids!" (I think of his comment every month when it comes time to pay the bills. It's sort of like saying, "I can't be overdrawn because I still have checks left.")

My son is now 26 years old and he still plays games. In fact, every time he comes home he has his Play Station II in tow. When this trend started many years ago, one of J.R.'s favorite Nintendo games was Tetris. I started playing it and became so addicted to it I had to remove the temptation and give it away.

There is one thing you need to know when you play a board game (or any other competitive game) with your spouse you have to have a sense of humor. And when it comes to board games, I'm the one that lacks this attribute.

I started thinking about this the other day when Ronnie and I played a rousing game of Scrabble. Now, everyone knows it's much better to play this game with at least four players. When only two are playing it takes longer, and you don't have someone else to agree with you when someone (like Ronnie) spells out the word "derf."

"I can't believe you put that down," I said, incredulously.

"What? Are you challenging it?" Ronnie asked quickly.

"Well, yeah!" I exclaimed. "There's no such word."

"I think there is, but if you want to lose your turn, go ahead," he smirked.

Of course, when we looked it up there was no such word. However, the deluxe edition of Scrabble comes with a three-minute electronic timer; and Ronnie and I are diligent about keeping each other within that three minutes. Consequently, when he gets stuck with only 10 seconds left to go he'll lay down anything, no matter how nonsensical it sounds. (I guess he figures he has nothing to lose and hopes I won't call his bluff and look up the word in our Official Scrabble Dictionary.)

And somehow, 50 percent of the time the word actually turns out to be legitimate, even though I know Ronnie has no clue to that fact. (For example, did you know that "dohti" is a loin cloth worn by Hindu men? And there are seven words that begin with the letter Q that aren't followed by the letter U.)

Several years ago we were playing this same game with another couple, and after many antagonizing minutes the man spelled out the word "ag." Of course when we all immediately explained that there was absolutely no such word, the man replied, "You mean you never heard of bacon and ags?" I can't remember, but I think we all laughed so hard we let him have the points anyway.

For future reference, just remember that the last word in the Official Scrabble Dictionary is "Zyzzyva." (Which, in case you're curious, is a tropical weevil).

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