Quick, list all the words you know that include the letters q, c and d. Not easy right? Welcome to the dilemma of the moment: how do I use letters to my best advantage, maximizing points, and kicking the butt of anyone willing to take me on? I grew up with Scrabble; my grandparents, mom and various other family members were seemingly addicted to it. I would try to create interesting words with my second grade vocabulary and sometimes I would even do alright. As I grew up words began to have an even deeper meaning for the writer trapped inside but a tiny three letter word seemed to hold more weight than working towards becoming that writer: fun.
When I was twenty three years old it was common to find me in the clubs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as well as Sunday on some not so rare occasions. I paid my cover charge and extended an arm to receive the ink stamp that would take three days to scrub off. The motion was instinctual; I needed no prompting to remind me how it was done because I had done it a million times. As a club hopper many interesting, diverse and crazy people come in and out of your life because, at that moment, your worlds share so many common bonds: a love of being half deaf, drinking enough until everyone looks good with running mascara, cigarette burn holes in all your clothing and so much love for each other you have no other way of expressing it but to rub their back and hold their hair while they slump down beside the bathroom toilet, vomiting as they fall.
All those years in the club scene gave me some of my favorite Scrabble words; take, for example, excess. Land that one on a triple word score and you are sure to take the game. Not only are the letters worth fifteen points, it is an excellent word describing a state of mind. It is a word used to define what happens when drinks continue to flow down your throat regardless of the little voice that is attempting to scream 'knock it off you idiot or you are going to die from alcohol poisoning'. Instead of listening to the voice it is far easier to splash some whiskey in its face to shut it up and send it home crying. This is not a problem though, you won't remember having done it by the next morning and all you have to do is say sorry, that you will never do it again, and the little voice miraculously forgives you.
After so many nights of stale drinks, cigarettes and conversation, I reached my low when I woke up one morning to a person who I called a friend handing me a glass of water, two aspirin, a joint and the nose tube attached to an oxygen tank saying 'trust me, you are definitely going to need these'. I glanced around and realized I was in the bed of another friend who was nowhere to be found but the guy I was interested in was laying next to me fully clothed. I took it all and started to inhale, maybe a little too fast, and began to put together the pieces of what had happened the night before over a greasy breakfast of bacon, eggs, and a grilled bagel. Recalling even the smallest detail after my third Alabama Slammer is something I am still working on.
I learned my lesson after that night. That was the first and last time I have ever drank to an excess where I blacked out without cognizant memory of what happened. Scary. Not to say that I have not been drunk since then because there have been plenty of nights filled with Merlot or Cape Codders that should never be discussed but nights at the club are so few and far between these days that paying more than five dollars for a cover charge is shocking to me. Now I am much more likely to have a couple beers at home with Matt during a Friday night Scrabble game and call my sister to ask if she has a dictionary. I ask if she could please look up how to spell aqueduct because if I spelled it correctly I will have scored ninety points (forty for the placement and an additional fifty for using all seven letters, score!). I feel her rolling her eyes and shaking her head at me through the phone as she tells me it is spelled with an e and not an i, so I take my seven points for the simple word duct instead and go to bed with all memory of the eighty three points that could have been.