This is not a deep psychological warning of some sort. I mean it.  Literally.  I don’t play games well.  Not any kind.  
I don’t like them.
Actually, it’s that I get very unpleasant when I loose.  And possibly even worse when I win.
I can’t resist gloating when I win.  Maybe because, as someone once said, “You obviously haven’t had a lot of practice at winning.”
I was about 12 when I first realized that I wasn’t meant to be a competitor.  I was making my maiden voyage into the world of betting.  Pennies, but still betting.
I don’t remember what game we were playing, but it was an important one.  For the first time in my life, we were betting pennies instead of matchsticks.
 I had apparently decided I had a winning hand and bet all of seven cents to back it up.
The game seemed endless.  I’d take a card then my opponent took a card…then I took a card than she took a card.  Endless.  But I was one card short of a win when suddenly, Dorothy, my opponent, and best friend at the moment, smiled at me in that snarky way someone does who knows she has bested you. Smug.  Practically drooling.   She laid her cards on the table,  and there it was…she had won.  I watched as she pocket my seven cents, and then – I fainted. The tension had been too terrible to be borne.
I never gambled again until one time on a visit to Vegas someone handed me $200 and said…go have fun.  I lost $20 in the slots in about five minutes.  I gave the rest of the money back.  I couldn’t even enjoy losing someone else’s money.
I used to make an exception for Scrabble…because I know a whole lot of words and I could beat most people I challenged, so I didn’t get all tensed up on the possibility of losing.  And I wasn’t nearly as obnoxious as I could have been over winning.
I even beat my sister, Jackie, and I NEVER beat my sister at anything.  The thing is – and I say this without fear of contradiction –  she knew more words than anybody – and could spell them.  She’s so good that one time, when I challenged her on a word, she insisted she was correct.  I smugly informed her that I has just recently had occasion to check that word and it didn’t exist.  
Okay.  That should have squashed her.  Instead she informed me that the dictionary was wrong1  Some gall, huh?  Well, guess what?   She was right.  The dictionary was in error!
Jackie and I played for about six months and she never won even once.   With all those words at her command she couldn’t see past CAT on a Scrabble board.
Now you might reasonably assume that I would get great joy out of playing games with Jackie.  But no.  After a while my whole preoccupation was “What on earth is wrong with her that she is still having fun while loosing so consistently?”  So I stopped playing with her.
You might also imagine that beating Jackie would have bolstered my self- confidence, and, for a while, it did.  But then I figured it out: You didn’t need to be the brightest piece of jewelry on the tray, just kind of sly.  One really helpful talent I developed, was an eye for ways to fill in odd little spaces that would suddenly make new words out of four or five already in place.  Lots of winning points there, and I could do that. Way to go me!
Jackie never saw those openings.
One of the best ways to win at Scrabble however was the ability to spot ways to play all seven of your tiles at once.  That feat got you 50 extra points – a really nice leg up for a win!  
For some reason, my mind seemed to stop at six letters…which wasn’t too bad until I played against a buddy of mine who, it turns out, never met seven letters he couldn’t turning to a word.  After six sad months of losing, I gave up Scrabble.
Now I am playing Scrabble by myself.  This is a recent preoccupation.  But I am getting better.  I came up with two seven letter words in one evening. Admittedly I couldn’t find any place to put them on the board, but I did see them.
I call my players Lefty and Righty.  Subtle isn’t it?  I don’t keep score.  I keep a dictionary open to check the spelling and try to keep an open mind as to who should win.  
 I’ve been playing fairly steadily for about two months now and I see an unfortunate thing occurring. I am beginning to side with Lefty. I don’t know why exactly…there’s just something about her.
But Righty is getting up tight.  I know I’m going to have trouble with her if the tides don’t turn in her favor soon.
If I’m not careful, I’m going to start cheating in Lefty’s favor and we’ll all be in trouble.  I mean, really, you can’t play a decent game with a hand that you know is cheating.
Yo!  I just laid out another Scribble game.  Lefty opened with the word IVY.  Righty thought about it a long time.  Her letters were


GENTSL and a blank.


Smarty pants used all her letters.  Can you?  Hint.  Keep the board in mind.

3 thoughts on “DON’T PLAY GAMES WITH ME!

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