While under the influence of a stiff cup of Traditional Medicinals “Nighty Night” tea (in an attempt to undo the three cups of coffee I’d had a few hours earlier), I engaged in a game of Scrabble with my 17-year-old daughter, SF, and my 13-year-old son, PJ.
We were off to a crappy start when SF couldn’t form one single word with her seven letters. I even tried helping her, and said, “OK, we’ll bend the rules this once so you can dump your letters and start again.”
SF managed to form a lame word that yielded something like four points. (Actually, it was five.)
PJ then took his turn and also formed a lame word, though he did get 16 points from it.
I took my turn, sure that my astonishing Scrabble skills would kick in, but my word failed to excite my taste-buds and was only worth 12 points.
We played one more round each with no joy in our hearts as our words sucked big-time. We complained vociferously and I began to dislike what had once been my favorite game.
I suggested, “How about we ditch all the letters and start fresh, but this time, we can only use words that aren’t real?”
My kids eyed me dubiously, but we decided it couldn’t be much worse than the existing stalemate we faced.
I wrote the rules at the top of our new game:
1. It can’t be a real word.
2. It has to be pronounceable.
3. A “Q” has to have a “U”.
4. You can use proper names.
The game suddenly became fun!
PJ was busy texting on his phone and soon lost interest, to which SF said, “Oh, come on, PJ. How hard can it be to not think of a word?”
SF took over for PJ and finished his letters for him, while I wrote down her quote as the slogan that should appear on the side of the Unscrabble box.
We ended our trial and error of Unscrabble with whopping scores of 293 for SF, 133 for PJ, and 215 for me. Every letter was used, and we enjoyed the game fully, not having to waste time following the strict rules of real Scrabble. Furthermore, compared to what can often become a tedious and drawn-out game, this game went quickly. I think a half hour of playing this way is not an unreasonable expectation.