Saturday, January 8, 2011

Words with Friends

I've recently had words with friends....

Okay, actually, I've been playing Words with Friends. I'm a bit addicted. (Can you be a bit addicted? Probably not...kind of like being a bit pregnant.)

If you don't know, Words with Friends is an app available for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch. It might be available on other platforms, but everyone I play has one of the aforementioned devices. It's basically an online Scrabble game. You and your opponent see the same board, and you take turns playing a word. As long as someone makes a move within 7 days, the game remains active and continues until all the letter tiles are gone. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.

I hate Scrabble. Always have. When I played it as a kid, I don't think I ever finished a game. Adding up the points got tiresome and always seemed to spark an argument. Debating whether or not the string of letters someone played was actually a word sparked even bigger arguments. Somebody would bump the board, the tiles would go everywhere, and we would just say the heck with it.

So when Pam asked me to download the app and play her, I hemmed and hawed and dragged my feet. I hate Scrabble. Besides, Pam was apparently really good at it. She listed a group of people she played regularly, and she regularly kicked their ass. And we all know how well I lose at anything. Yeah. No thanks.

Pam is nothing if not persistent. She continued to harass me, and I continued to smile and ignore her. Then, a couple of weeks ago, at my pre-holiday girls' dinner, Amanda mentioned being tired because she had stayed up late playing Words with Friends. Pam perked up, and while I watched in mild amusement, they traded usernames and set up a game with each other.

"You could play with Kathy, but she still hasn't downloaded it." The look that accompanied this comment was less than friendly.

Amanda's expression was incredulous. "Oh my gosh! You don't have Words with Friends?!?"

Before I could formulate a response, she snatched my phone off the table and started clicking buttons. She thrust the phone back in my face.

"Enter your iTunes password."

"I don't really...I'm not sure..."

"Enter your password!"

If Pam or Linda had snatched my phone and demanded I enter my password, I would have laughed and said something unrepeatable. Amanda is my rainbows and unicorns friend....never speaks a cross word...never raises her voice. I was so taken aback by her bossiness I entered my password. Within minutes, I had a username, and Amanda had created a game.

She used my phone to play the first word..."nut." Pam rolled her eyes.

"Nut? Good god! You're playing a 3-letter word?"

"I'm easing her into it."

And that pretty much sums up the difference in my games with Pam and Amanda. I've had a game going with both of them since that night. Amanda and I play words that are in our actual working vocabulary. We trade wins and losses pretty evenly. Often, it comes down to whoever plays the last letter because we are so evenly matched.

Pam, on the other hand, is a shark. I can't beat her. I suspected she was cheating when she played the word "aedile." I used the instant messaging function in the game to ask her "wtf is an aedile?" Her response looked suspiciously cut and pasted from her dictionary app, followed by the word "duh."

Duh? Okay. Fine. It was on. I used a scrabble solver website and played the word "azoted." I had no idea what the word meant, but it had a Z in it, and Z's are worth 10 points. Pam merely laughed and said she didn't know I was a chemist. She won that game by at least 50 points. Even cheating, I couldn't beat her. **

I quit cheating. It wasn't helping and it kinda sucked all the fun out of the game. Upon reflection, I've figured out why Pam is so good. She is a math teacher, and Scrabble is really a math game in disguise. While I'm creating interesting words, Pam is racking up points. She plays a 3-letter word worth 40 points while my 6-letter word is only 6 points. The day I beat her will be a glorious day indeed.

I recently started a game with my youngest son, and it's been more fun than I can say. His username is ridiculous, and I laugh every time I get the notification that it's my turn. Even the words he plays are funny. I'm winning, and after getting my ass handed to me by Pam, it's good to win, even against a kid. (Yes, I love to win even at the expense of my own kid. Don't judge me.) Plus, it's kind of awesome that my 16 year-old wants to play me in a word game.

Win or lose, the game is fun and even kind of relaxing. When I'm focused on making a word with six weird consonants and one vowel, I'm not thinking about the stress in my life. It's not really intrusive. I play while I'm watching TV or reading, even while I'm writing this blog. On the weekends, we play at night until one of us falls asleep.

I recommend Words with Friends. Communication makes any relationship stronger. :)

**For the record, when I spell-checked this blog entry, the blogger dictionary didn't recognize aedile or azoted. Figures.

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