Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Triple word score, you little bastards

[First: slight adjustment to the style. Everything working okay? Everything looking good? If not, let me know.]

So, I like Scrabble. I can't imagine that's a real shock to anyone, considering my status as an obsessive lover of words. What's shocking, actually, is how bad I am at it -- I can spell great words, sure, but true Scrabble savants have figured out all the little tricks, stacking two- and three-letter words inside and around each other so they end up getting forty points or some shit every time they drop two tiles down.

Anyway. I'm playing Scrabble on XBox Live the other day -- 'cause I actually bought the XBox Live Arcade version of Scrabble, 'cause I'm a dork, as we've discussed previously, at great length -- and losing quite badly, as per usual. I'm holding my own, keeping a close second, but I know that, any moment, my opponent will spell some obscure word like xi or something and I'll be left in the dust. (I guess I should point out, in the interest of completeness, that there was a third player in this game. But he/she/it played so poorly that their score was a non-issue and never presented a threat.)

Now, I've got the volume turned down, because it's Sunday morning and Christy and the puppy are sleeping, and this version of Scrabble is hosted by Mr. Potato Head (don't ask) who likes to do backflips and make Pillsbury Doughboy noises every time you spell a word. But I see the little speaker next to my opponent's avatar keeps lighting up, indicating that he's talking over XBox Live's chat feature. No one else is talking to him, but that doesn't stop him -- he's downright chatty.

So after about twenty minutes of this, my curiosity gets the best of me. I (quietly) dig through my nightstand and find my XBox headset. After plugging it in and fiddling with the volume controls, I finally hear what Mr. Scrabble is saying:

He's yelling at his kids. The whole time.

That's it. He's not talking to us, he's not talking about the game. He's got his headset plugged in, the mic turned on, and he's shouting at his children. "Behave!" he yells. "I mean it, you kids stop!" And he sounds like some drunken bad-dad cliché -- I can practically see him in my mind, cigarette tucked between his fingers, ratty old flannel shirt, empty beer cans strewn around his feet attracting ants on the green-brown shag carpet. Hasn't showered in two days, hasn't changed clothes since the day before that, and has at least two firearms in the house, plus one more in the truck.

And then I think -- This guy is playing Scrabble? On XBox Live? And beating me?

I would like to say I recovered to glory, but it was not to be. My opponent continued to feud with his children, eventually threatening to stop the game if they didn't shut up. And he made good on his threat, giving us a brief apology before leaving the game, thus ending it. (I consider this a win by default. I don't care if you agree with that or not, I'm taking it.)

I hope to spend a part of every weekend losing Scrabble games to people who probably haven't seen a dictionary since Chumbawumba had a hit. Next up: meth addicts!

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