Ki

scrabble2

Ki

When it comes to aptitudes, we all have our strengths. And weaknesses.

This becomes very apparent in a marriage. Living with my spouse for more than 19 years, married for 17, this fact is evident, and reinforced, on a daily basis.

For example, Naomi is an ace in the kitchen. She even excels at the barbeque, the stereotypical domain of the male.

She’s terrific as an artist, making paperclay sculptures that I feel are at a very high level of artistic achievement.

On the computer and with figures, she’s not nearly as competent as I am (err, I can’t be too critical when the subject is also your proof-reader…).

When it comes to Scrabble, although she might count her score awkwardly, Naomi surpasses me every time, though I’m no slouch in the word department. You don’t win seven times out of ten with good luck at the tiles. I may complain about my luck getting bad tiles, but it’s accepted wisdom between the two of us that my wife is superior in this game which we enjoy playing on a regular basis, to the point that when I ask her to play with me, I usually frame it in the following fashion, “Are you in the mood to beat me in Scrabble today?” Smiling, she replies, “Sure!”

Today, not long into it, Naomi went out with a seven-letter word, “strained”, and I was soon falling well behind, at least 60 or 70 points, which is a mountain usually too high to climb for me playing against this formidable opponent. Hating to lose, I often wish to concede at a time like this, but my wife hates when I concede, unless it’s at the very end of the game and the score is 425 to 161.

I didn’t know if I was coming back or not but Naomi announced, near the end of the game today, that I was only 30 or so points behind.

I wasn’t too hopeful.

Nevertheless, we were both getting pretty good scores for our word put-downs.

On the penultimate move, I noticed a “q” just sitting there on the board. Before me on my tile rack, I noticed an “i” and a “k”. The “k”, if it fit, would land on a triple letter score (making it worth 15 points).

I put the two tiles down and was delighted to see that the two words created were synonyms: “qi” and “ki”, the energy flowing in the body (“chi” also works). How often do two words produced in Scrabble in one move mean the same thing?

It was the last move. “You’ll need 10 points to tie me,” my wife said, not too worriedly, noticing that I only had one tile left on my tile rack. “Oh, there’s no way,” I said, probably making her feel even more strongly that victory was hers, once again.

I put down my “u” on a double point square, forming two words, and excitedly counted my points. Along with the three points still in her tile rack, I had come from behind and won! By three points!

Naomi was just as surprised as I was and genuinely happy for me, knowing, as I’ve said, how badly I hate losing, particularly on a regular basis.

I’m not sure about aptitudes, how the brain becomes more developed in certain areas than other ones, and more developed than with other people. The brain’s an amazing thing and it’s a delight to see people who are great in certain areas, whether it be sports or science or art.

For one brief moment today, I enjoyed beating someone – coming from way behind – who has a talent with words that I can only dream of.

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