I Smacked Down Some Kids and I Don't Regret It

Saturday, Joon, her husband MJ, and I took part in a Scrabble tournament for the Metropolis Literacy Council. Lest you think this is something we do on a regular basis ... well, stop thinking that. MJ's boss donated a bunch of money to the MLC, and then required all his employees to attend, and MJ himself hates a) games, and b) spelling, so he brought Joon and me in to carry out his Please God Don't Let Me Die Of Shame Plan.

And it worked!

Twenty-two teams competed in the tournament, and oh my. There were some real Scrabble freaks there. Like, I play Literati on Yahoo! Games, and I love to play Scrabble, but only with people who are HORRIBLE at it, but there were people there who HAD THEIR OWN HOMEMADE BOARDS. With their names on them and everything! I didn't know you could do that. The boards even spun around. It was like I had discovered another subculture of society, like when I learn about foam clubs and nipple piercing on CSI.

The way it worked was, each three-person team would compete against another three-person team for 40 minutes. You turn in the scores and move to another table, playing a total of three rounds. Whoever had the highest total number of points would win the tournament.

On our team, I'm the only one who had played before, Joon is a good speller, and MJ ran the timer (hee). And he did it very well, too.

We arrived, like, 45 minutes early, so I wrote the words "Metropolis Literacy Council" on a piece of paper, and Joon and I tried to make as many words as possible from those letters. (This is a time-filler game I do with my students all the time; it keeps them quiet, tests their spelling, and also they love it, which was an unexpected bonus).

In three minutes, Joon had come up with 16 words. I had 54.

Our first opponents were a dad, his ten-year-old kid, and a random old guy. I wrote a note to Joon: "That kid is probably a Scrabble rainman." And when she read it and looked at him, he was sure enough staring at the board and rocking back and forth. I could not have planned it any better. Joon got the Church Giggles for about ten minutes.

I felt bad, but I had to do it: we whooped that team, ten-year-old notwithstanding. I think our final score was something like 263 to 190. Not that I wrote it down or anything.

We moved on, and played next against some of the MLC volunteers, which would have been unfair except for the fact that Joon and I are both teachers as well as obsessive spellers. We won that round too, and the vicotry was even sweeter because those ladies were kind of rude.

At the end of the first two rounds, our team had 550 points, and we were feeling good about our tally until the scorekeeper wrote the total for team 22, which was 800-something. And that team? Was the Super Christian School Scrabble Team, nationally ranked in the Top Ten for three years running.

Number 1: Did you know schools had Scrabble teams? Me neither.
Number 2: I think it was the JV squad, because those kids could not have been more than fourteen years old.
Number 3: Joon looked at their coach and said, "You should go out with him," and I leveled her with the Death Stare and replied, "Joon. There are levels even to MY nerd-dom." Anyway, he was married.

During the third round, we played against a grandma, her son, and his son, who was approximately ten. Again, I felt bad, but I couldn't just NOT COMPETE; that is a Flower Family Rule that dates from like, 46248672589 B.C.:

And you can't fight tradition, so I did; I beat that little kid.

At the end of the day, MJ, Joon, and I came in fifth, which isn't too bad considering that we were playing with ... well ... one-and-a-half players and one really really good time-keeper.

Of course the Super Christian School Scrabble Team was first; that is to be expected when you actually STAY AFTER SCHOOL TO PLAY SCRABBLE. (I guess I shouldn't talk, given my own Band Nerd status ... aw, whatever--even band kids look at the Scrabble Team and laugh).

I do wish we could have won, but I am definitely not going to the Metropolis Scrabble Club meetings that were advertised at the tournament. Definitely not ... this week.

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