Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Scrabs of Steel

Hi. My name is Daniel Johnson and I'm a Scrabaholic. There, I said it. My girlfriend is a Scrabaholic, too, which I guess makes us enablers. Between us, we own four Scrabble boards (and secretly want more). We've stopped going out socially and try to avoid leaving the house in general, unless it's completely necessary. I mean, why would we when we can stay in, pound whiskey sodas, and get in a half dozen rounds of Scrabble before the sun comes up?

I once joked that, for us, Scrabble was foreplay, and some people thought that was funny. Well it's not funny anymore because the fact is, we've long since stopped having actual sex. Scrabble is the sex. No, strike that, it's better than sex. For me, the spine-tingling euphoria I felt after the 98-point bingo I landed last Saturday was like having four orgasms at once. It was a fourgasm (which is, sadly, not a word you'll find in the official Scrabble dictionary).

The addiction is making me do things I don't want to do, become a man I don't want to become. I've stopped even trying to be Scrabble-faithful to my lady. I have a Scrabble haram, a stable of word wenches that I play the online game Scrabulous with all damn day. Life is so good. There's Sheila and Sandra and Sarah and.... ahh, their names all blend together. I've started to think of them as one woman - one demanding, energy-sucking woman with a double D vocabulary who is always telling me it's my turn. Yes, it's both as hot and as exhausting as it sounds.

Obviously, I'm rocking Scrabulous when I should be working. And I'm pretty sure my boss is on to me ever since she saw the Scrabble tiles fall out of my pocket in our last meeting (I keep a 'Q' and a 'U' with me at all times for good luck). And when she asks me a question, sometimes I don't even notice. I'm just staring off, muttering under my breath, "J-O.... J-A... what two-letter words start with J?" The loss of my gig is imminent. Do I care? Nah. I'll just have more time for Scrabble.

How did this happen to me? How did I come to risk losing my cool points, and possibly my humanity, for a stupid (but so lovable) tiled word game? I think the answers can be found in tracing the history of my Scrabble board ownership.

Board 1 - My First Scrabble

This was my first board, a hand-me-down. Notice the classy letters bag and the fact that the tiles are two different colors because they were combined from separate sets. It's beat to shit now, but I won't throw it away because it has too much sentimental value. I used to kick my grandma's ass on this board. I remember people in my family would be looking at me funny like, dude, take it easy on Grandma, and giving me dirty looks when I trash-talked her. I don't know what it was, but I could never hold back with Grandma, even then. I wanted to wipe the floor with her, and taunt her while doing it. I guess that Scrabble had already started to corrupt my mind.

Board 2 - Travel Edition

This was given to me for my birthday by people in my band, on the eve of leaving for a national tour. I can say with absolute certainty that it saved my brain to have Scrabble capability on those brutally long drives. The only reason I feel a tinge of sadness when seeing this Travel Edition Scrabble board, all covered in dust from the American Southwest, is that it brings back memories of the ass kicking I endured at the hands of our bass player Rodrigo. See, when we left for tour, I was the master and Rodrigo was a mere pupil, learning at my hairy feet. But Rodrigo is, by nature, a scientific and calculating bastard, and within weeks the tables had turned and he was regularly smearing me. At some point, it just started to hurt my feelings.

Board 3 - Michael Graves Designer Edition

This was a rare instance of too much fancy being a bad thing. I bought it for Kirst for Christmas last year, thinking it was a really sentimental thing to do, since the seeds of our love had been sown in the fertile soil of Scrabble. It was a designer edition, by Michael Graves, that they were selling at Target. It looked all high-tech and super next-level. I couldn't resist. But I don't think Michael Graves has ever bothered to use his own designer Scrabble game, let alone even repack it once. For all its futuristic sheen, it's just not a very functional design. The tiles slide around, the game components fall out when you open the shell... it's not the worst thing in the world, but it doesn't even come close to....

Board 4 - Onyx Edition

This is the Holy Grail Scrabble edition to end all Scrabble editions. For one, it's based around the color black, which is, like, the official color of Kirst and I's love. We bought it for ourselves this year for Christmas. She was out shopping and spied it in a bookstore. She called me to tell me about it and half joked that we should go in on it. This was, of course, preposterous because we already had boards coming out our ears. Why would we possibly need another? And yet, when I double-checked to see if I'd heard her right, that it had the lazy Susan feature, a raised tile grid, and was indeed based on the color black, my response came quick: buy it immediately.

I'd like to think that this board will last us the rest of our lives, or at least tide us over for a few years until they invent the version that will also make you whiskey sodas while you play. But I'm not that naive. She's already talking again about that Simpsons Edition we saw and made fun of. "It's so silly. Simpsons Edition. But still... what could it possibly be like?"


Megs said...

I fell out of my chair when I got to the "Michael Graves Designer Edition".

mike said...

i must say, i remember well your over confidence as we began to play in your old house in detroit those many years ago. it still feels great knowing that i triumphed over you in something you wanted so badly to be great at while that same thing was a mere afterthought for me.

one - nil, my friend. one - nil.