Saturday, November 19, 2011


     Do you know where the Dallas area Scrabble Club meets on Tuesday nights?  I do.  It's at the IHOP on I635 and Josey Lane.  I know this due to my love of Scrabble and a little help from Jennifer Lopez playing in her Scrabble Club in the movie the Wedding Planner.
     When I moved to Dallas, I knew no one.  Not a soul.  I knew I liked playing Scrabble and I knew from JLo's romantic comedy that there were such things as Scrabble Clubs.  So I opened my game of Scrabble, found a pamphlet and called the 1-800 number for the National Scrabble Association.  They gave me the contact info for 2 Dallas Scrabble Clubs.  I chose to go to the Tuesday night club at IHOP.
     The Scrabble Club met in the Josey Lane IHOP's side room.  I didn't get there early.  Players, or should I says club members, had already set up their boards.  Almost every board was elevated and spun completly around so one didn't have to move the board or crane her neck to see a possibility for a play.  The club's captain gave me a cheat sheet since it was my first time.  The cheat sheet had all these 4 letter words with no vowels and high point letters like XYST and ZZZS--yes these are both apparently legal Scrabble words.      
     Anyway, I would be able to play 3 games.  For each game a player had 25 minutes to make all of his or her plays--there was a timer, like in chess.  This meant if you didn't know the Scrabble board well and how many points a blue or pink square was worth then you'd be screwed.  I was screwed.  I had to lift my letters up after I made a play and count my points. It took forever.  I lost the first game badly.  My first opponent had been an elderly man with a mangled hand.  He'd showed some mercy to me and in return I hadn't minded helping him place some of his tiles on the board since he couldn't use both hands.
     Oh this would also be a good time to mention I was the youngest player in the group by at least 25 years.  There was one guy my age (at the time) who was 28.  He was so obese he couldn't even get up to shake my hand.  No future loves would be found at Scrabble Club.  In my second game I played a nice lady in her fifties.  She won, but I felt like I was getting the hang of things.  No so.  Because along came my third opponent.
     She was a sweet looking, white-haired lady, with a nice outfit on and her hair swap up in a tidy bun.  She was out for blood.  Her first words to me were:  "what do you think you're doing with that word sheet?"  I told her that the club captain gave it to me and said I could use it as a cheat sheet since it was my first time at Scrabble Club.  Sweet grandma wouldn't have it.  I looked at her and said "you're going to win anyway so what does it matter if I use the cheat sheet?"  She still wouldn't budge.  So the ass-wooping begun.
     That 80 year old lady spanked me.  Not literally, but she might as well have.  She won handily.  I think she had at least 2 bingos.  A bingo in Scrabble means you used all 7 letters in your letter rack in one play.  The reward is 50 extra points on top of your word score.  It's absurd.  Well, I take that back.  It's absurd if you're the newbie at Scrabble Club losing badly and the only thing you have to show for it is your sticky syrup coated fingers when you leave.  Remember this club played its games at IHOP and someone along the way had ordered pancakes and now a thin but distinct layer of syrup coated all the Scrabble tiles belonging to each board in the room.
     I left sticky and cried in my car as I drove home.  I knew I'd never go back.  I hadn't met any new friends and an old grandma had been mean to me.  That's no way to spend a Tuesday night even if you are at an IHOP.

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