Friday, June 22, 2012

Words With Friends

I see nothing but vowels; not a consonant in sight.

How do I create a word with three I’s sitting before me?

I am hooked.  I no longer contemplate the mysteries of the universe.  Instead, I focus on word structure and ponder how to make the most of what my I-Phone has given me.

The game is an electronic version of Scrabble.  It can be played over hours, or days, or weeks (with some nudging for opponents who linger before making moves).  I place letters into boxes, some marked DL or TL for “double or triple letters;” others labeled DW or TW, doubling or tripling the value of words.
Strategy will dictate what I do: Do I create a double value word even if it gives my opponent the opportunity to triple the value of his? Do I save my 10-point Z until I can enhance its value?  Or does waiting create the risk that I will be unable to dispense of the letter and lose the 10 points when the game ends?

My friend Jeff is on a roll.  In this match, he has come up with multiple words that have used all the letters before him, thereby earning additional bonus points.  My letters, on the other hand, are unworkable.  They sit before me and mock my linguistic impotence.

Three I’s?  Really?  How can I possibly hope to compete?

What finally sends me over the edge is VAULTING.  The word has earned 60 points for Jeff, the third time in the past few hours he has eclipsed the half-century mark.

I reach out to him (texting is a prominent feature of the game, which is as much social media as contest):  “Where are you getting these letters?”

He responds in typical Jeff fashion: “I assure you that whining and kvetching will not help – and I don’t use words like TALUK.  What the heck was that?”

For the record, TALUK is a noun used in India.  It is defined as “a hereditary estate” and “a subdivision of a revenue district.”  I happened upon the word accidentally, while attempting to fit both an L and a K into a 5-box space.

My response to Jeff’s barb earns an electronic laugh: “No, but I am certain you will get the chance to use KVETCHING shortly.”

Some say that our increasing reliance upon smart phones has lessened our ability to communicate.  We no longer look others in the eyes, but prefer instead to exchange short-hand electronic messages.  The Norman Rockwell family of our era sits around the dinner table not sharing the day’s events, but doubled over phones, busily texting.

Perhaps they are right.  Perhaps the dawn of instant communication is more curse than blessing, something we will regret in coming years, as each of us becomes increasingly isolated.

But I prefer not to dwell on such thoughts.  Instead, I focus my energies on obtaining an U to go with my Q.

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