There is on odious, evil and insistent karma that floats and follows me everywhere. Like gnats on a hot afternoon in the Adirondacks, they follow me about in my own yard to plague my very soul. Gnats (or is it the equally noxious black flies?) that have been known to drive a tundra dwelling musk ox to commit suicide. I have lost sleep. I dread the coming of nightfall because of the waiting nightmares that will make me wake up screaming and soaked with my own salty sweat.
And, it’s not the heat in the room because it’s -38 F outside our thin pane of glass. The interior of our house sometimes looks like a set from “Dr. Zhivago”. But that’s okay, after all it’s only the end of April.
What am I paying for? Why can’t I await the Final Judgement to pay for my moral laxity? What is it that plagues me so deeply and causes me to see the whole world in different shades of gray?
I am about to confess for the first time the reason for my anxiety and self-doubt. You see, several years ago, I made a dreadful mistake. I am making this public, here on my very own Blog Platform on WordPress.
I challenged my daughter to play Scrabble on the computer. The computer is necessary because she and her husband, and my grandson live 3,000+ miles away, in Orting, Washington.
Oh, you say, isn’t that grand. A dad playing perhaps the most famous and popular word game in the English-speaking world with his daughter. (Please don’t ask about Candy Crush Saga!) What a great bonding experience…you say.
In theory, you have a point. But in practice, the naked facts speak for themselves. She beats me far more than I beat her. In fact, her current win percent, in late April, 2015 is 59%. Mine on the other hand is 45%.
Some back story is needed here: My daughter wanted to attend a small private Liberal Arts college in the Northeast. She did. So, we both have undergraduate degrees. I, on the other hand, came within four credits to completing my M.A.T. degree. But, after I began teaching full-time, I took graduate level courses in many different locations, accumulating enough credits to equal a Ph.D. (Which I don’t have, but that’s another story.)
To further complicate the issue, I am 25 years older than my daughter. I read a lot. She reads a lot. But if you do the math, I have 25 more years of books under my belt than she. At my present reading rate, I have read approximately 576 more books than my daughter. I don’t know how many books she reads per year but if you subtract her total from my total, I still have the advantage.
Not only that…I am a published author. Doesn’t that count for something? Apparently not.
Here is a “typical” game between the two of us:
I open with EYING which is worth 9 points. She will come back with YTTERBIAS which, as we all know, is worth 14 points. After studying the board for 20 minutes, I’ll put up SAD (4 points). She will play BOBBEJAAN (22 points) before I can get back from the bathroom. That’s probably a Bingo, so it’s really worth about 125 points. Now, after 4 moves, the score is 139 for my daughter and 13 for me. You don’t have to be a bookie from Hialeah to know where the odds are going. And, speaking of Bingos, she has 76. Is it worth mentioning that I have 30?
Can anyone out there feel my pain?
One time I jokingly made a mention about how can she beat her dad so bad after I spent years changing her diapers. I even paced the Waiting Room like a good father does on TV while she was being born. Her reply was that I should be proud of her education and brains.
Believe me, I am very proud of her in so many ways. She’s very smart and very well-read, it’s well known. But, does she have to be so morally correct and not “allow” me to win? That would be nice once in a while, say on my birthday or Father’s Day.
When I recently mentioned this to her, she said something to the effect that it is part of the American Dream for the younger generation to become better Scrabble players than their forefathers. Did I miss something in Civics Class in high school?
So, it must be something I did to get this karma-thing following me. Did I not mash her peas enough when her little baby teeth had more gums than teeth? Was it because I woke her up from a sound sleep to let her see Bob Dylan in a rare TV appearance on Letterman sometime about 35 years ago?
Then it hit me. I remembered what it was I did that brought the negativity of the Universe upon my head.
I recall the night. It was in 1983. The place was Danbury, Connecticut. I took her to see “Superman III”. It happened there, right in front of her eyes that I did a despicable thing. Something I have felt profound shame about for 32 years.
I am confessing this in public, right here on my Blog site. Now the world can judge me for what I really am. Now the blackness of my soul will be visible for all to see, like a goiter on my neck.
I looked into the ticket seller’s eyes and lied about my daughter’s age. I shaved a year off her age to save $2.00. Yes, she saw and heard the whole thing. Yes, I did this thing. Yes, I am sorry.
But, I can’t turn back the hands of time. I must bear this smudge of sin, so awful and so wrong, that proper folk should turn away from me in horror, like I am some kind of vocabulary-challenged Quasimodo.
I must carry this until my walk on this earth is complete. Then I will have to take the Ultimate Consequences at the Gate of St. Peter.
But, the problem is not completely solved. None of the above explains why my daughter’s husband beats me almost every time we play. The rare time when I do win (both times) I feel like having a tee-shirt made up with the message: “I BEAT MY SON-IN-LAW AT SCRABBLE”. On the back, I’ll print his Social Security Number.
I will end this with another short confession. My wife and I drove all the way to Orting, Washington to visit my new grandson and his parents. But, I had a second motive. I was determined to locate the Scrabble Dictionary they used.
I couldn’t find it, but I have my ideas.
The only place I failed to look was the bottom of the dirty diaper pail.