It’s no secret that I play a lot of online scrabble and often with strangers. Yes, strangers. Go on, ask me about it. I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve even got two facebook friends who I have only ever met across a online Scrabble board. In both cases, they evenly matched me as players, took their turns in a timely manner, saw the games through to completion and never once tried to engage me in sordid scrabble sex talk. What’s not to like?
“Now, hang on a minute, NDM,” I can hear Those People asking. “What’s all this about sordid scrabble sex talk?”
Honestly, do I have to explain everything?
Okay, so anyone who has ever done the scrabble thing via facebook may remember the good old days of “Scrabulous” before their makers got made Hasbro’s bitch in a copyright wrangle.
For those who haven’t and/or don’t, Scrabulous was a popular version of the Scrabble format with a user-friendly interface and an extremely seedy underbelly. If you ever dared venture into the “Join Table” section to peruse the games on offer from other players, it was just a little like putting your carkeys in a bowl at a swinger’s party. Every second game request was from guys specifically requesting games with girls with “big norks” (and other such delightful attributes) or looking for a “XXX good time”.
Now, while I feel Scrabble is a word game with many fine qualities, I could never quite reconcile the desire to use it as a forum for sex chat. And I always wondered (without bothering to find out, mind you) whether there was any expectation for players who accepted those kind of games to put down words like TITTY and SIXTYNINER (which would be quite a high scoring word if you think about it, but that’s the Scrabble nerd in me coming out again).
Anyway, let’s just say it was an absolute minefield for a Happily-Married-Thank-You-Very-Much Woman with three children whose personal motto was “A Quick Clean Game is a Good Game”. So you can therefore appreciate it that when I found some people who would play quickly and cleanly, I clung to them like a drowning sailor.
Since Scrabulous’ untimely demise, I’ve since found myself occasionally playing the Hasbro-endorsed and heavily trademarked SCRABBLE™ game on the Book of Face. In stark comparison to the Scrabulous miscreants, the players on SCRABBLE™ are an earnest clean-living lot, especially since there is no capacity to advertise “particulars” when posting a game request. In the SCRABBLE™ world, you are either a Beginner, Casual, Serious or Expert. And this player, ladies and gentleman, is Serious.
So you can imagine my surprise and horror the other day, when a young man burst into one of my Serious game requests, all chatty and friendly-like. Our conversation went a little like this:
ME: Er, hello.
HIM: How’s life today?
ME: Um, I’m doing the bloody dishes.
By this time he was already losing considerably in the game.
HIM: I can bet you are really worried you’re going to lose this game.
ME: You might still surprise me with a BINGO.
(For non-Scrabblers, this is a seven-word move that earns you mega-points)
HIM: I like small words that get me no points at all.
HIM: I like people to think, shit, he looks like a smart guy and then be pleasantly surprised by their enormous win.
I went and looked at his profile pic and saw it showed him up close and personal with someone who looked a lot like Paris Hilton – i.e. a blonde man in drag. Yep, real smart.
ME: Interesting tactic. It must lose you many games.
HIM: Yes, but I think I win the respect of strangers. And friendship is worth much more than scrabble points.
ME: I am too used to letting my six-year old son win too many UNO games to let any strangers beat me at Scrabble.
ME: Are you going to do your move?
Was it something I said? Clearly, it was.