Monday, April 12, 2010


Oh my God, my fellow cruisers are accusing me of cheating.

At Scrabble.

And it isn't really even Scrabble, but some sort of anagram game played with Scrabble tiles.

And we aren't even keeping score.

But still they accused me of cheating.

And I am thinking, "This is only Day 4 of 24. This may turn out to be a very long voyage."

The problem comes from the fact that I played a lot of Scrabble on Facebook a few months ago, and that has a built-in dictionary. So suddenly people who can't spell their own middle name are using words like "cwm" and "qoph". Which is OK, but it does force you to start learning all the arcane words, especially those with J or Q.

Regrettably, an English couple at the table challenged me on words that don't quite fit into the arcane category. Like "ziti".

"It's a kind of pasta," I said, and checked myself before adding, "and a pretty common one for people who eat more than lamb curries and boiled beef."

"It's a kind of what?" the man responded. And I knew I was in for a lengthy explanation if he didn't even know what pasta is. But then he and I both realized that I was pronouncing it like "POSS - TA" - you know, the way the Italians do. And he pronounces it "PAST - TA" - you know, the way the Poms do.

Once we cleared that up, though, the Yank woman piped in challenging the spelling. She was pretty sure there were two Ts in "ziti". I wanted to tell her that there was only one T, much as in the word "stupid".

LK joined the chorus and assured them that I was right. I was proud of her for being brave and defending me. Of course, I was aware that it is easy when you're defending someone who is correct.

As fate would have it, I used the word "aero" on the next round. Yankee Woman couldn't wait to tell me how stupid I was. "That's a prefix, not a word."

"You're partly right," I said. "It is a prefix, but it is also a stand-alone word. Or at least it is in the Scrabble Dictionary."

I had assumed that I would easily win the day by dropping the Scrabble Dictionary bomb. Surely the table would go, "Oh, this guy actually knows what words are in the Scrabble Dictionary. Maybe he's right."

I was wrong. She smiled the tight little smile of a former schoolmarm who has caught a kid peeking at another kid's test paper. "Well, when I get back to my room I am going to google that," she said. Which is, of course, the equivalent of calling me a cheat.

So I smiled politely and suggested that when she get back to her room, she should also google "cwm", "qoph", "qaid" and "qi". No way I was losing the superiority sweepstakes to this witch.

I should have added "wadi" because when I played that on the next round I could see everyone looking at me with great skepticism.

I guess I was so much the focus of their judgments that no one bothered to notice that other people at the table were putting down words like "dias", "quel" and "zink".

Didn't matter, of course, because we were playing for fun. Or perhaps I should say LK and I were playing for fun. I think the British couple were playing for Queen and Country. And Yankee Woman was there to make the world safe for correct spelling.

Oh, and by the way, I checked on "aero" when I got back, too. Very relieved to see I was correct.

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