Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Altruistic Scrabble

My mother was competitive.  She'd come behind on the golf course and win. I know she would have been furious that her third husband, Alec dear, outlived her by eight years and was days from 101.  Monday would have been her 98th birthday. Happy Birthday Mom.

When I was a girl she despaired I would ever get ahead.  She dragged me by the arm to compete in the annual Westmoreland County Club swim races where she always said I came in 4th, thus barely missing a ribbon.  When I discovered yoga in college it was the idea of being okay where I was, and the non-competitive nature of the endeavor that amazed me.

So here I am, Sunday night, playing Scrabble at my neighbor Julie's house.  Julie and I and a houseguest from London are drinking tea or Proseco and playing. Months before I had realized that sometimes I like to open up the board as a goal for a move, or sometimes even open up the desired red Triple Word score.
I dubbed this Altruistic Scrabble.

On Sunday, by the end of the game and the bottle of Proseco,  Maggie from London but actually Irish, was leaning over, taking my letters and getting me much better scores.  She said she liked me.  I asked what she did for a living and she had been an economist with a definite Marxist leaning.  Thus Marxist Scrabble was born.

Why stop there?  When deciding between moves what if one chose the beautiful word over the mundane. Our Scrabble board boasted "ARIA" and "ZEN." Aesthetic Scrabble.  They let me get away with "YID" which was neither lovely nor legal in the game nor politically correct, but that came under the Marxist Scrabble rule.   Or like Pity sex, I was trailing and maybe the oldest in the room.  Or maybe I was playing the PL card again.  A Poet Laureate gets away with a lot.  But I have made two poetry emergency house-calls to this house, so maybe I earned it.

I'm sure Erotic Scrabble has been played. And there could be other leanings, but I want to just put this out to my strict and competitive Scrabble friends, you know who you are, I have changed the rules internally and upped the ante. Just like playing Boggle with my grandson, cooperatively since he is eight and I am old, there can be satisfaction in a variety of ways.

The weather has changed so get out your boards and lean towards beauty, truth, and rooting for the joy of others when you play. Mudhita Scrabble, pleasure and joy in the success of others, a Buddhist term.  I'm just saying.  Maybe I can apply these rules to my ticking PL life, five months in but who's counting?


  1. High score during recent convalescence from foot surgery in daily FB game with senior partner of a law firm in Atlanta: 562.
    Two of my sisters and I also play daily via a UK site called the Pixie Pit. Another sister plays the others but tired of being clobbered by me. As teenaged kids, the sister closest in age to me and I hit upon a play we called coitesquabent. Extra excitement if you could craft a particularly obscene sounding word. Scrabble is the tie that binds, no matter what might be going awry in the family.

  2. Wow - these new forms will be shared for sure in our scrabble family tradition and beyond, Joan.
    -cirrelda in albuquerque


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