Monopoly. Thanksgiving 2005.
It was my turn to empty the last two letters from the little felt pouch. And wouldn't you know what tumbled out? I got Z. I got Q. Ordinarily I treasure these premium letters. They're worth 10 points apiece. But when you have next to no vowels, and there are no remaining tiles to draw, the words keep diminishing in length thanks to the dwindling number of tiles. There's just no place to play anything, let alone Z and Q. And at the end of the game, the points of the tiles lingering on your rack are subtracted from your score and added to your opponent's. A double whammy of defeat. Curtains.
I began to resort to pathetic two-letter words like "ef," the phonetic spelling of the letter "F." (Yes, that's allowed.) There's something so cold and detached and Cartesian about spelling out one letter with two letters. It feels twice-removed from reality. Wasteful. And you get only two miserable points. I wandered into the kitchen and devoured a sorrowful spoonful of Cherry Garcia right out of the carton. Out on the arroyo a coyote howled and pounced on its prey. Every carnivore between here and Highway 285 howled. "YOUR TURN MOM!" Flan's voice was annoyingly sweet. I imagined her eyes gleaming in anticipation. She was into the kill.
I wandered half-heartedly back to the Scrabble table. Now my opponent had gotten really fortunate. She 'd gotten rid of two letters. Her last two letters. I and L. Clearly, my verbal prowess was plummeting in my dotage. I was outshone by a whippersnapper. Oh my God, I had just actually thought the term whippersnapper in reference to my firstborn. I was thinking like a geezer. I felt ill.
ILL. Flan had attached her I and L to the L of my GLADE, spelling ILL. What?? I took off my glasses, cleaned them, and put them back on. There it was--floating before my eyes--Flan's I was completely unattached!
In a frenzy, I pounced. I played my Q, my U--hoping against hope, I had refrained from making TUB a couple of moves earlier, knowing I'd need U to accompany Q if any miracle opportunity presented itself--and my Z. I made QUIZ! The Q was a double letter and the whole thing was a double word. I racked up 64 points in my last turn, seizing victory from Flannery's ILL. Talk about ILL-gotten gains!!!!!
I wasn't ready for geezerdom just yet. I was HOT.
I was so dazed by it all, when I went upstairs for bed, I felt compelled to run back down to Flannery's room and say, "You knew I had that Q and Z. You deliberately put down that I so your old mother could win, didn't you?? You felt sorry for me."
She took my hand and said, "Mom, I wish I were that nice."