I’m a bit cross.
I’ve been told I’m a little too competitive when it comes to games. I really, really hate to lose. When Red and I were dating, I fell out with him for a whole day because he and my sister joined forces to conspire against me in a game of Monopoly. They refused to sell me anything, rendering me incapable of buying any houses, and yet cheerfully sold each other things like Mayfair and Bond Street for £1 each. I’m getting angry just thinking about it, actually. Anyway, they said it was to teach me the importance of playing just for the sake of playing (“having fun”, they called it), and not being obsessive about winning.
It didn’t work; it just gave me a persecution complex.
Monopoly’s always a dodgy game, though, because there’s an element of chance involved that just makes me nervous about the slight possibility that I might not win. Scrabble, however… I always win at Scrabble. Always. I cannot be beaten, simply because I am That Good. I’m not being vain, I’m being truthful. It’s not really boasting, because, let’s face it, it’s a rather nerdish claim to make: some are pretty, some are witty, I am a Scrabble genius.
Anyway, Jay next door shares elements of my smuganicity* as far as board games are concerned. He seems to think he’s unbeatable at most of them, and even had the nerve to demonstrate this in a rather painful game of chess one evening. However, I dealt with it quite maturely, accepted my inferiority as far as chess was concerned, and contented myself with thrashing him at Scrabble and bankrupting him in Monopoly.
Now, in recent days I have been sucked into the world of Facebook. I was finding it a little dull, to be honest, until I discovered that one of the applications you can add to your page is called “Scrabulous”. It allows you to play Scrabble with your friends, at your own pace, taking your turn when next you’re online. Jay was obviously one of the first I challenged to a game. Confidently, I entered into it, smugly making my moves with words like “elevate” and ” themed” strategically placed on pink squares.
Halfway through, I started to feel a little uneasy about the fact that the score was strangely even. We were, in fact, neck-and-neck. This has never happened to me before in a game of Scrabble, and because of the long, drawn-out way in which the game was being played, it cost me quite a few nights’ sleep. By yesterday, when he’d overtaken me by something like 20 points, I was on the verge of a breakdown, my heart sinking every time I got the email telling me he’d played his move: It is now your turn. Palms sweating, brain aching, I stared dementedly at the computer screen, always managing to come up with a decent word and redeem my score, and always returning a few hours later to find he was ahead again.
My last few moves were nothing short of spectacular, all things considered. There were only 15 points between us, and I was certain that I could still win if he didn’t use up his letters before me. Then, tonight, I’m sitting watching a DVD with The Housemate when he arrives in, giggling like a little girl. “I wrote on your wall,” he announces dramatically. Assuming he’s using Facebook jargon as opposed to declaring a newfound interest in graffiti vandalism, I reach for my laptop and start logging in to my page. “Is… is the game over?” I ask nervously as the page loads. He shifts from foot to foot, still giggling. “Yes… I’m sorry.”
I’m numb with disbelief, sinking under the crushing weight of failure. Awash with grief, I scroll down the page and read the comment he’s written for me.
Congratulations on your valiant effort. Unfortunately, it was no match for the scrabble word generator, www.scrabblewordfinder.com. Don’t hate me.
I hate him. Blood, sweat, and tears – and it turns out I was playing an unbeatable, computerised Scrabble champion.
It’s all just one, big, giant conspiracy.
* Smuganicity: not, in fact, a real word, but one invented by Zed one day when no other word would fit. I like it.