"HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?" Francis Schaeffer

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grandma G; the Scrabble Nazi

One of the pleasures of childhood was being able to  spend  a week with my grandmas.  Nana lived at the beach, I loved visiting her; mostly because I spent my day at the beach and she just enjoyed having me around; either cooked something I liked or we went to COFFEE DAN'S in Redondo Beach; they had great vanilla malts.
But I loved Grandma G too; however she lived in a small house in the middle of L.A. on a small, extremely steep dead-end street.  There were no kids around so my week with her often had elements of boredom but I was happy enough to be there for a few days cause my Grandma G loved me.
She was forced to drop out of school in 8th grade and go to work, her father had deserted the family and life because extremely impoverished for her Mom and her siblings.
Grandma G was very motivated to get out of poverty and achieve education and she spent the rest of her life reading widely with an emphasis on the Bible; which she read to me every morning.
Her favorite game was SCRABBLE and with all her reading, she had a world class grasp of possible words made out of the Scrabble tiles.  She began to teach me Scrabble when I was 8 or 9.  Grand G was competitive and she loved to win; it didn't matter who she was playing or how good  ( or bad ) they were.
It didn't take me long to realize A) Grandma G was merciless and B) she wasn't above gloating when ever she cleaned her grandson's clock.
We'd be playing, I'd put down C A T and earn 3 or 4 points.  She'd put down quokka with the Q on triple points and earn 50 to 60 points and be absolutely gloating.  Early on, I thought Grandma might take my youth, education and lack of word knowledge into account and give me a break.  But as far as I can remember, her objective was to win big and crush her grandson in the process. I don't recall ever winning or even coming close.
In Little League baseball there's a mercy rule; if one team is up big then the game is shortened.  Well Grandma G had no interest in the mercy rule for Scrabble with her 9 year old grandson.  We played 'til all the tiles were gone.  Generally, I had about 20 points, she had about 300.
I remember one time spelling out J A N E with the J on triple points.  I was excited; then Grandma pushed the tiles back to me and said that wasn't an acceptable word.  "WHAT?"  I cried.  "I've been reading about Dick and Jane; Jane is too a real word."  Grandma then informed me it was a personal pronoun and totally unacceptable in the game of Scrabble.  Well I was vexed, but Grandma claimed to know the rules and I had never read them  ( probably couldn't at this stage) and ended up spelling  I H A T E U which Grandma also rejected.  (Actually I don't think I did that but that's what I was thinking, you betcha.)
There's always life lessons to be learned and I learned one in particular; DON'T PLAY SCRABBLE WITH GRANDMA.  From then on I became either quite clever or deviantly devious in avoiding Scrabble games after the first couple of years.  Even then I lacked the martyrdom gene and losing big to Grandma brought me no lasting pleasure so I created what ever diversion I could to avoid head-to-head competition in a game I couldn't win.  Grandma mourned my stubbornness but eventually quit forcing me to play.
I think Grandma G died in about 1974 and I mourned her passing; she was a fine grandmother even if she was a Scrabble Nazi.


Brian said...

Wish I could have met her. I know I will in heaven. Hope she likes me!

mohamed faizel said...

- faizel