I should have known better than to accept a challenge from Boy in Black. I mean, this is the kid who routinely pulls off what we call the Rubik's Cube scam. He'll pull a Rubik's Cube out of his pocket when no one is looking and leaving it lying somewhere. When people pick it up and start playing with it, he'll say casually, "Oh, it doesn't look that hard. I bet you five dollars that I could do it in under five minutes." And of course, once the unsuspecting person takes the bet, he does the Rubik's Cube in less than two minutes. His record is 51 seconds. And it's not that he likes to brag about his skills - he's actually a shy, quiet kid - it's that he likes to make money off unsuspecting friends. Modest, but mercenary. That's my son.
So I should have known better, but when Boy in Black suggested a game of Scrabble the other day, I willingly agreed. Phantom Scribbler has been talking having Family Time every evening, and I thought to myself, oh this will be some nice bonding time with my son.
And the game Scrabble? I mean, really. I used to play Scrabble as a child. Long before this sixteen-year-old brat was born. I felt confident. I knew I could beat this modern computer geek boy at an old-fashioned game. Boy in Black might be freakishly smart at math, but Scrabble is all about words. I am good with words.
Here's how our tender mother-son bonding time went:
Boy in Black: Want me to give you some kind of handicap?
Boy in Black: I could spot you 50 points.
Me: Don't insult me, you little brat.
Boy in Black: You aren't afraid of losing?
Me: Of course not.
Boy in Black: Oh, that's right. You should be good at this.
Boy in Black: I mean, you are an English teacher and all that.
Silence as we arrange the board, me positioning it so that I can see it right side up and Boy in Black gets the upside down view.
Boy in Black: So what kind of stakes are we playing for?
Boy in Black: I mean, if you think there is any chance of you winning.
Me: Any chance? OF COURSE I AM GOING TO WIN.
Me: I am good at Scrabble, you little brat.
Boy in Black: Well, if you win, I will clean the garage for you.
Me: Really? Okay, then, let's get this game going.
Shaggy Hair: What if Boy in Black wins?
Me: He isn't going to win.
Boy in Black: Well, just in case I do ... I ought to get a prize
Boy in Black: How about a deluxe Scrabble game?
Me: We ALREADY have a Scrabble game.
Boy in Black: But we could get the one with the turntable so I don't always have to play upside down. And it's got those ridges so the letters don't move when I drum on the table.
Me: How about maybe you learn not to drum on the table when we are playing a game?
Shaggy Hair: And a cloth bag to put the letters in.
Me: Why would we need more than one Scrabble game?
Me: You materialistic little brats.
Boy in Black: Only four people can play at a time. And we are having a tournament.
Me: A tournament?
Boy in Black: Yeah, on Friday night. Here. I already invited people over.
Shaggy Hair: It's educational.
Me: Fine, Shaggy Hair, you play too.
Me: If either one of you wins, I buy the Scrabble game.
Me: But if I win, you both clean the garage for me. Thoroughly.
We start drawing tiles to see who goes first
Boy in Black: I am so going to kick your butt.
Me: Is that any way to talk to your mother?
Boy in Black: When I am playing Scrabble, it is.
The game begins. Soon Boy in Black is in the lead. The phone rings.
Me (into the phone): Hello
Me: Hey, Daughter
Me: (whispering) Can you look something up in the dictionary for me?
Me: I am playing Scrabble with the boys.
Daughter: Ha! No one can beat Boy in Black.
Daughter: I hope you weren't stupid enough to take a bet.
Me: If he wins, he has to clean the garage.
Daughter: Oooo. High stakes.
Shaggy Hair: Mom, stop trying to cheat.
Me: (into the phone) I'll call you back later.
The game continues.
Me: Oh, come on. You can't fool me.
Me: That is not a word.
Me: That cannot possibly be a word.
Me: You are making that up.
Boy in Black: It's a word.
Me: Tell me what it means.
Boy in Black: A qadi is a judge in a Muslim community whose decisions are based on Islamic law.
Me: Oh, come on. YOU CAN'T FOOL ME.
Me: You made up a word and then made up a definition.
Me: You expect me to fall for that?
Me: You've stolen that method of cheating from me.
Me: I perfected it.
Me: I can remember the time I convinced everyone that zeit was short for zeitgeist.
Boy in Black: It's a word. Look it up.
Me: What? Just because you say it in an authoritative voice, you think everyone is going to believe you?
Me: You think everyone is going to believe you because you've got a deep voice now?
Boy in Black: Look. It. Up.
Me: So now you are trying to pull that "I've got a deep voice and sound like a man so no one is going to question my authority" thing?
Shaggy Hair Boy: Uh, Mom .... look at this.
Shaggy Hair Boy: In the dictionary.
Me: Oh. My. God.
Me: Word. For. Word.
Me: (accusingly) You looked up q words ahead of time!
Me: I think that's cheating.
Boy in Black: Prior. Knowledge. Is. Not. Cheating.
Boy in Black: I thought the game was supposed to be educational.
Shaggy Hair: You don't want us to learn new words?
Me: YOU COMPETITIVE LITTLE BRATS!
Me: What did you do, memorize the whole q section of the dictionary?
Boy in Black: No, just the ones that don't need a u.
Me: Where did you get this competitive streak from?
Boy in Black: Gee, Mom, I don't know. It's not like you are competitive or anything.
For the record, Boy in Black did not win the game. Shaggy Hair did. Boy in Black came in second. And me a dismal third. Even with help from With-a-Why, who finished his homework and came over to join in. I think family time was more fun when I used to get to win the games.