April 27, 2004

Though I have one of the best active vocabularies of anybody I know, I am nonetheless a terrible Scrabble player. I suspect this is because I am flummoxed by the limitations of the seven letters provided me. In most areas of my life I crave limitations like I crave chocolate, but this appears not to be one of them. I use the word “perforce” in casual conversation, and yet if confronted with an open e on the board and the letters prfrcoe in my tray, I guarantee you that the absolute best I’d be able to come up with would be “fore,” or, if I were feeling particularly inspired, “crepe.”

Similarly, though in general I have a superb long-term memory, this faculty fails when it comes to women’s ages. No matter how many times a woman tells me her age, I will never, ever be able to remember it. For this I blame not the terror of limitations but an incident from my childhood. Once, when I was five, my family went out to dinner; I suspect it was to a fine dining establishment like Red Lobster. At some point during the meal, I turned to my mother and asked, in my loudest five-year-old voice, “Mommy, how old are you?”

Without missing a beat, she turned to me and said, “Seventy-six.”

Now, even I, a cognitive work in progress as it were, could tell that my mother was not seventy-six years old. And yet somehow my brain accepted that as the truth, just as it had accepted her explanation the week before that the expression “colder than a witch’s brass tit” came from the olden days, before modern weather-measuring equipment, when people put brass witches out on their back porches and felt their tits in the morning to see if it would be a cold day.

At any rate, I date my inability to remember women’s ages from that moment at Red Lobster.

It is occurring to me that my problem is not that I am cognitively deficient but that my mother was a pathological liar.

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12 Responses to Though I have one of

  1. hot toddy says:

    1. Your mom is cool.
    2. If I never eat at Red Lobster again it will be too soon. My dad dragged us there every weekend for 13 years of my life.
    3. I can’t remember how old I am let alone anyone else.

  2. sherry says:

    is it my imagination or are you reposting some posts?

  3. Mr.D. says:

    Is that why “Scrabble” has eight letters – because it’s looking for an open ‘e’?

    I’ll get me coat*

    *British expression, meaning I’m leaving before I embarass myself further.

  4. Mr. D., aren’t we all looking for an open e? Sherry, it’s not your imagination; I posted a version of this briefly before taking it down for further editing. You must have caught it in the nanosecond in which it was up. Hot Toddy, I won’t remember how old you are if you don’t remember how old I am.

  5. Rose says:

    The true secret to Scrabble God-dom is not just the effective use of the open “E,” but also the Two Letter Word, and the Words Beginning With Q.

    That is one of the many reasons why I will never reach Scrabble God-dess-dom.

  6. Jeff says:

    The easiest way to remember your age is to pick one and stick with it.

    Me? I’m forever 31, because no one is going to buy 29. As long as they buy me a drink, though, I don’t mind.

  7. troy says:

    That is a problem indeed.

    I love scrabble and you’ve just described the most challenging part of the game. thinking of obvious words under pressure and limitation.

  8. sherry says:

    aaah ok. obsessive blog checking and time differences mean that i often get to see lots of things like drunken posts before they get taken down!

  9. sam says:

    Perhaps, but also seemingly adept at dealing with inquisitive children. I only hope I can be that quick with my kids.

  10. TJ says:

    Oh boy. You got an open “e?” If it was me playing your letters, I would have been tempted to lay down “freecorp” and argue later that it’s a moder-day english word.

    Nice blogsite you got. Adding you to my links.

    a pathological lawyer-almost
    -T.J.

  11. Convivia says:

    Scrabble requires a particular kind of verbal and mental agility.

    Don’t forget the words “qat” and “jo” (respectively, a Middle Eastern drug that’s sort of a cross between hashish and betel nut, and a Scottish endearment). I use them all the time in Scrabble.

  12. Roxzana Robertson Sudo says:

    . . . from Brazil. I just have to say you are absolutely brilliant and that I continue to read your blog daily. Thank you for continuing to write and for being an inspiration to me (my school [where I work, teaching literature, history, and geography. . .and stage manage, write scripts for, and direct school plays] is heavy on plays and performing arts and it is wonderful to see the things you write and do). Take care!

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