It’s Scrabble Day. Celebrated by millions, this game was invented in 1938 by Alfred Mosher Butts and is so popular it’s sold in 121 countries and 29 languages. Scrabble has its own association and annual tournament. This year’s North American Scrabble Championship will be held July 22-26, in New Orleans. If you’re interested, registration is still open!
I must admit the seemingly innocent, jumbled pile of Scrabble letters taunt me. When I see those 1″x 1″ inch, lettered, wood tiles my heart is filled with a pitiful longing. They are a sad reminder of the days I when was escorted from the family game night table for fear that my greatest number of points would never exceed ten. To them, I wasn’t worth the turn, the time, the letters. I knew I was smart. Still, my mother, father, and sister banished me to the T.V. room, while they giggled and had intense battles over word challenges.
“Grab the Scrabble dictionary!” I’d hear them shout, bickering and laughing with each other, while my ear was pressed against the game room door, which they always shut.
I couldn’t even see the game. I’d whisper words like, “muzjiks” to myself. The kind of word I’d try to play if trapped with a Z and a J, should I ever be invited to join the word war on the other side of the door. I’d listen and whimper, like a dog asking to be released from her crate, while whatever Disney movie they popped in the VHS drowned out my tears. At least, that’s what I pretended. Surely, they couldn’t hear me. Surely, they weren’t ignoring my cries.
It wouldn’t be until decades later that I’d have the opportunity to redeem my self-esteem and prove my word-smith potential. Enter Words with Friends. Finally, a chance to play! Even though they weren’t really my friends, these strangers didn’t judge me. They accepted my literary slayings like worthy opponents. Falling beneath my triple word scores and sending messages about my spectacular unconventional words, like “caziques.” I was finally a conqueror. I was finally invited to the table.
A bittersweet pill to swallow since my Dad passed a few years before the gratifying app. In my heart, he plays with me. Finally noticing me, just like my mother and sister, finally saying, “Here, you can shake the bag.”
When you celebrate Scrabble Day today, remember that it is a game and all should be invited to the table. Sometimes, it’s not about the words, it’s about the fellowship!