I had loved Scrabble all my life.
My first husband however, had dyslexia—not a good choice for a Scrabble-aholic. So I took a hiatus, if you can call 30 years a hiatus.
When I met my second husband and found out he played Scrabble I was ecstatic. I would have put it in the marriage vows if I could have. He always said that the way I acted, I did anyway.
No matter how he teased me about how often I wanted to play though, he usually gave into me and played—even when the first time he beat me, I actually punched him on the arm after he laid down a seven-letter-word on a triple-word score.
Never had I played Scrabble with anyone who beat me quite as regularly as he did. He was a human dictionary and was always playing one of the hundreds of foreign currencies he had on the tip of his tongue.
One time, after I’d gotten the game all set up, he sat down and warned me that he was probably gonna win again.
“It ain’t necessarily so,” I countered—hoping against hope that I was right.
Of course he won. And no, he wouldn’t go for two out of three no matter how much I begged. He was just fine with his one win. His biggest play was “candareen.”
“What’s a candareen?” I asked.
“An old Chinese coin.”
I should have known.
I groused and moaned and asked him why God let him win all the Scrabble games.
“Because I tithe,” he said calmly.
It wouldn’t have been so disgusting if it weren’t the truth. He did tithe.
But surely he didn’t win because of tithing I told myself. I didn’t think the big guy in the sky actually kept track of Scrabble players/tithers. Besides, my husband wasn’t really that much smarter than me—maybe when it came to vocabulary, but not when it came to strategy and moves.
What was it? Why was I losing so much?
It took me about 10 years to figure it out but when I finally did, did the tides ever turn. I began beating the daylights out of him.
“I don’t like this losing all the time thing one bit,” he said. “What happened?”
Of course, I knew what had happened—and it had nothing to do with tithing—it had to do with a change in attitude.
I could say it was because I no longer cared if his feelings would be hurt if he lost, or if he would be “mad at me” if I won and if I said those things, well, they’d be true. I had stopped thinking that his feelings and reactions to the game were more important or somehow more valid than mine and that I had to shape myself and contort myself in such a way as to protect him from them.
I had put myself on the Scrabble back burner, so to speak, and put him up front.
Not an effective formula for Scrabble and an even less effective one for the “big game” called life.
Without even realizing it, I had always played with an “I don’t want to lose,” attitude. One day, I started to play with a “I want to win” attitude and that change in attitude—from defense to offense—is what made the difference. I had stopped caring about whether his feelings were hurt if I won and started to play to win no matter how he felt about it.
The dynamic of the game changed completely and, in fact, there were times when he didn’t want to play. No longer being so sure of a victory, it wasn’t all that much fun for him anymore.
Subsequently I joined a Scrabble Club where regular competitions were set up and you can be sure—I played with a winning attitude.
I actually don’t play Scrabble anymore. Why? Because I learned the “real” lesson I had played the game all my life to learn.
“Play to win. You have as much of a right to win as the next guy.”
It’s a great strategy for enhanced self-image.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Catherine Monkman