In the past two weeks I have had a continual bout of failing: failing to blog at my promised once-a-week pace, failing to stay healthy, failing to work on my novel for the promised number of hours, failing to call people back, write people back, finish projects, take care of business, clean up, work out, and so on.
Today I gave my students a hand out, of which I had made over 100 copies, that has an incredibly conspicuous and confusing word out of place--nothing Freudian or funny, just "Fair" and "Good" switched on a grading continuum.
I'm doing my darndest to maintain that aplomb I see in people I admire, that grace in the midst of what is actually floundering. But I think, frankly, that it's harder for me to accept a string of small failures than some large, grand one. I like things to be large and grand.
Anyway, one small failure in particular I'd like to discuss is my recent bout of hating to play the game Scrabble. Keep in mind: I am of a certain language-loving ilk, and many of my kind also are avid crossword players, Scrabble afficionados, Word-of-The-Day enthusiasts. Somehow, I hate these things. I love language, yes. I hate crosswords. I hate Scrabble. I hate word-games that force me to divorce meaning from the words I love so much. With the exception of Tony, who has recently admitted to also hating Scrabble, but not crosswords, particularly, I am quite alone in this general disgruntlement, among my writer-friends, as far as I know.
So. In an effort to try and re-enter this land of word-play (Maybe I'm missing something of deep intellectual importance! Maybe it will improve my memory! Maybe I can expand my vocabulary! Maybe I don't like words enough after all!) I agreed to play a game of scrabble with four friends on a recent Friday evening.
I made them agree, however, to play a new version, which I coined "Sharing Scrabble." In this version of the game, every word that you put on the board you must then incorporate into a story about yourself. If you have no personal connection to the word, you make one up. For the most part, this aspect of the game was a pleasure for me--there's nothing like eliciting confessions from people I care about.
But I still hate the rest! It takes so long! I don't understand the gleeful triumph of winning! I don't like points, especially when I don't really know how to get them! I don't know enough Greek letters or archaic adjectives to even compete with the weird Scrabble-vocabulary of my friends! And I would rather just listen to them talk about their lives, or books they've read, then find out they were hiding "Qi" somewhere in their little wooden hands.
I will say that I had a small personal triumph, in the face of my crushing loss (at the game, and at liking the game) in the moment that I laid the word "pudenda" on the board.
If I don't like Sharing Scrabble, I don't think there's any hope I'll be converted to the plain-old version, even the speed version. I'm ready to claim that there's no enlightening or constructive value to the game for me. I'm almost ready to say there's no enlightening or constructive value to the game at all, just to elicit some outcry and justification.
Why is this game so beloved? Is it like Coca-Cola (Beloved even though it is morally and nutritionally bereft)? Or is it like soccer (Beloved for reasons I feel compelled to understand, even if I never feel an affinity for the game itself)? In other words, is this my failure to appreciate something that deserves my attention, or does the culpability lie with the Scrabble-players, who could and should use their word-power to more creative ends?