There is a new presence in my life, one that has eluded me for many years. It was a constant long ago, an obsession, an activity that preyed on my innate predilections for board games and word geekery.
Scrabble has come back to me.
I look back now and wonder how I managed without it for so long. I played all the time when I was younger, with a bunch of trash-talkin', bingo-lovin', SOWPODS-totin' yahoos who lived for the tiles, man. We'd get together and play, and drink, and reminisce (remember that time I played HAZEL for a trip-word, and then nailed HAZELNUT for the other trip-word?), and drink some more. A few of us liked to pick a letter and do a shot every time someone played it.
And we challenged. Oh, sweet cracker sandwich how we challenged. Because people played phonies all the time, and some of them got really entertaining after you'd knocked back a jigger of Maker's Mark for every T on the board. The only thing worse than getting caught in a phony was challenging and losing, because that meant you were an ignorant little trollmonkey who needed a little time to himself, with the good book, before he was fit to re-enter society.
I'm not good enough to compete or anything. I can't sit back and reel off 8-letter arcania like COTQUEAN or VERJUICE (I looked those up), but the wordsmith jones has always been with me. And lying dormant, mostly, since I got married. About the best I've done is read Word Freak and marvel at the peculiar intellect and motivation that gets you to that coveted 1600 rating.
But now, I've struck the mother lode of word freaks around the interweb, and I'm playing Scrabble online. With Geeks Across America. It's wonderful. But is also robs me of lots of precious writing time (and sleep, since a few of you are over on the west coast). You can't play phonies, and it's a bit lame to talk trash by IM, but it's scratching an itch I thought I'd long since drowned in calamine. (Which is an excellent 8-letter bingo, btw.)
So that's a lot of the reason why I haven't posted lately. But I have a lot to say about this summer, and how it's ending, and how I will cherish it, both in my near- and long-term memory. But now, it's time to prepare for that next step in a boy's life. The thing that has you buying up "required" supplies like foam board, and Elmer's glue. The thing that sends you for a special haircut from the neighborhood Uzbek who is at once affably chatty and at the same time looks like he'd crush you like a bug if you crossed him.
The thing that anagrams to the title of this post.