Words With Friends

wwf-1It started slowly. All my friends were doing it. It seemed like harmless fun. It was something I only did socially, and I tried it because I was bored. And now I’m hooked. I’m an addict. Hello, my name is Barbara and I am a Words with Friends junkie. “Hi Barbara.”

I blame that darn Smartphone. It made it so easy to just sign up. And there was that first little ping – a friend wanted to start this online Scrabble game with me. How sweet. My first word was “Dog.” She countered with “Drawl”; I followed with “Wed”; she came back with “Feral”. F. U.C. K. Before I knew it the score was 345 to 82, in her favor.

Then another ping, another friend, another challenge; it was thrilling. What letters would the Scrabble gods throw my way? What words could I create with a simple drag of my finger? I tried my best, I used Xs and Zs, but was still left lagging far behind my competitor – like way behind, like three digits behind.

Words with Friends became my obsession. Soon I was no longer satisfied with my friends. I began trolling that dark world for any random opponent who’d have me. And there were many, like Friday Yah, XYZ23 and JaggerRules. Nameless, faceless players who helped me satisfy an immediate need. Heck, I didn’t even know if it was a man or woman I was playing with. It could have been a hay farmer from Georgia, a Russian novelist, or Alec Baldwin (shiver to think.)

I had multiple games going – all in hopes of increasing my score. Words lost meaning to me. I just saw them for their point value: Wax, Zygote, Quiz – I yearned for these high-point gems. Signs became life-sized Scrabble boards. Every time I drove past Jersey’s renowned hot dog joint, Rhutt’s Hut, the phrase “Sorry, ‘Rhutt’ is not an acceptable word,” flashed through my mind’s eye. (“Renowned” = 14 points)

wwf-2Ahhh, Words with Friends in a tempestuous dance partner, my friends. Sometimes it was a kind provider, serving up a J, W, C or the wonderful, beautiful high-point B, with the corresponding and critical vowels. I challenged my partners – some strangers to me – with nuggets like “jazz”, “torque” and “nugget”. (“Nugget” = nine points) Other times, it was a cruel prankster, and only gave me vowels. I would look at my screen disheartened, with only “I E E I I I O” as my options. I updated the board with “it” “is” and “in”. (“In”= three points!)

As far as addictions go, Words with Friends was pretty tame. I could smoke, drink. It kept my brain going after hours. Rather than sitting in the couch and frying my brains on bad reality TV, I juiced up the “grey cells” with WWF. (Okay, I never watch bad reality TV because I think that medium is single-handedly causing the stupidification of America. I like The History Channel*.) {Wow if “stupidification” was a word, it would be lots o’ points.}

I even brought my dictionary home from work to increase my vocabulary. I discovered words like “yagi” (a directional radio or telescope antennae), and used that sweet little word to satisfy my dirty, little need for points. (Yagi = eight points) I did not feel bad, I won that game.

And then there were the desperate times when I pulled random letters together in hopes that it would be a word – and it was! Like “obi” (abbreviation for oblique or oblong). The screen would display “sending” and I would have those exciting few second waiting for the points to add to my total.

What a rush when 98 would jump to 128. The first time I broke 300 was exhilarating. I think it was “Quay” that brought me to that milestone.

Now I am always on the hunt for that rush. I swore I would never be that person who was constantly checking my phone while with friends and family. But now I keep checking to see if that WWF icon is up, indicating that it’s my turn. At least I am not updating my Facebook status every five minutes. (“At the gym.” “Eating cookies.” “Back at the gym.”)

Don’t judge me. (“Judge” = 19 POINTS!) I’ve enjoyed playing WWF with my young niece. Until that 16-year know-it-all started whooping my ass. (“Whoop” = 14 points) And it keeps my mind active and will delay my inevitable decent into dementia. (I know it is coming, just don’t know when.)

Even now as I type this, my phone is next to me, tempting me away from my brilliant prose to fill my board. That siren call is pulling me back to that rectangular device, in hopes that I will see those beautiful words: “Your Move.” (“Move” = 10 points)

Could be worse. Could be Candy Crush.

*Okay, I don’t really watch The History Channel, unless it’s Ancient Aliens. (“Ancient”= 13 points)