It was a Scrabble match, my sister on one side of the table, her brother on the other (that would be me). Following a long history of her beating me, I’ve come to learn the true skills needed to succeed in Scrabble, which is not coming up with great words, but coming up with the words that’ll get you the most points, accomplished by maximizing use of the Double Word Score, Double Letter Score, et al squares.
These days my sister and I run neck and neck as we race toward that final letter (with me usually beating her out by a narrow margin—thank God she has a history of getting stuck with all vowels for long durations of the game play).
In this particular game, out of desperation, she has had to place an IT at the very bottom of the board, stopping just short of utilizing the red Triple Word Score square with her short unglamorous word . . . tit.
I then remember the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and see my chance. I just need a P, a sole P to make a word only I would know on that square, the only word that could use that Trip Word Score square. Thank you, William Finn, thank you.
And as I plan, I know what my sister will do. “Whatever,” she’ll say. “That is not a word. I challenge that.” She’ll look it up in her Official Scrabble Dictionary, see that it is, indeed, a word and lose a turn, giving me an even bigger upper hand in points.
So, I take my turn, hoping to dump enough letters to get a P so I can use my word. I make a word, dig for letters. No P.
Next turn, no P. Turn after that, no P. But then I find it, my glorious P. My fantastic, marvelous, sensational P. And I’m set to go.
“Whatever,” she says. “That is not a word. Use it in a sentence?”
“Um,” I answer, “I can’t . . . But that doesn’t mean it’s not a word.”
“I challenge that.”
With a smirk, I watch her page through her Official Scrabble Dictionary.
“It’s not in here,” she says.
“Well, it should be. It’s a word.”
“Oh wait, here it is.”
“See,” I say, “it’s a word.”
“But it’s not T-I-T-O-P. It’s T-I-T-T-U-P.”
Crap. Irony sucks.
Okay, so I still won the game. But Chip Tolentino, I feel your pain.
the Broadway Mouth
August 18, 2008