When I was in elementary school, before I could even spell, someone got me Scrabble Jr. In contrast to the adult game, this board has each word written out for you in advance- like a crossword puzzle with letters already filled in. Your job is just to match the letters in your hand with the ones on the board.
I rocked at this game! (You’re pretty much guaranteed a win, so everyone feels really good about themselves by the end.)
Sometime in middle school, Great Grandma Dorothy invited me to play Scrabble with her. Sure of my Scrabble skills, I cockily accepted the challenge.
But I was surprised that the board didn’t have any letters written in. And my highly intellectual words like “boat” and “it” didn’t present much of a challenge to her “quark” with a triple word score.
Needless to say, I lost brutally. I’m pretty sure grandma was taking it easy on me, but there was no question that I had been humiliated.
We played again a few times, always with similar results. Grandma passed away while I was in high school, but I always think of her when I’m playing against more evenly matched opponents.
There’s this great café in Elkader, Iowa, called The Treats on Bridge Street. When we’re in town, my stepmom and I visit for their coffee and pastries. If we have time, we’ll pull up chairs for a game of Scrabble.
We have Scrabble at home, but it’s not as much fun to play with my brother and dad hovering over our shoulders to suggest words. Neither of them likes to play, but they’re perfectly willing to “help” us with our games.
At home, we play something the boys are into: Monopoly, Dealer’s Choice or Masterpiece. Or, we’ll play cribbage, a game that doesn’t interest them at all.
Scrabble in Elkader has become something of a tradition, and though I don’t often win, victories are cherished. And I don't even need the words spelled out for me!
Merriam-Webster's "The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary" was on the Indie Bestseller booklist for months this winter. Its popularity has only recently declined. I secretly theorize that people are comforted by Scrabble during the bleak winter months. If you're one of those people, I know how you feel.