Monday, November 21, 2011

12 step scrabble...

I love playing scrabble.

It was one of those games that we used to play at home growing up. Sure we had the games of Mousetrap, Operation and Twister that all kids had, but when it was game time with the parents we either played cards; Hearts in paticular which usually left someone in tears (me) when my dad would get them all and we would all get 36 points; or Scrabble.

I have fond memories of playing it with my mom and dad. We played lots and lots of games. Most were unmemorable, the ending always the same with my dad winning. My mom was a good player, but didn't have the savvy my dad did. He could get 30 points with just playing one letter. As a kid, it was highly annoying. But I continued to play. My mother used to write down the unusually high scores in the lid of the scrabble box with the date and who was playing.

As you might know, my mother passed away a couple of years ago. We had somewhere along the line replaced the older version of our scrabble game with a new one as one of the tiles got lost somewhere in the 25 years that we had that particular game. But I still have the original box and game. It’s old, the cardboard sides are broken, the velvet bag torn…but I keep it. I pull it out from its nesting spot under my bed and look at it from time to time. I read the entries in my mothers’ neat hand and caress the well worn tiles. It holds a lot of nostalgia for me.

One particular memory holds like it was yesterday. I had come home for a visit from college and played a quick game with my dad before going to bed. It was my dad’s birthday and as a joke I had given him a paperweight. I had it engraved with “Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Scrabble Play”. I thought it was funny. It did bring a smile to his face. And it still to this day sits on the bureau in the living room.

Ironically it was that very night we played a quick game. And I beat him.
For the first time in my life.

I had come close several times, but I had never won. His vocabulary was just superior to mine own, his plays more clever, the use of tiles played close to not allow others free play. Triples were guarded and rather than make the big 6 letter word that might open up one for the next player, he’d be content taking a lesser single score and look for that spot the next turn. It was like when we played chess…he was always severals moves ahead.

But this time it was I who won. And he couldn’t believe it.

Oh sure, he gave me the congratulations. When I went up to get ready for bed and then came back down for a glass of water, there he was...sitting on the couch RE adding all the scores just to make sure.

The game HAD been close.
I won by a mere 6 points.
But I won.

It was the first time that I really felt as if I had become a young adult.

Here we are so many years later; Enter Words with Friends.

Help me.
There must be a twelve step program for me somewhere.

I am addicted.

You’ll find me in a basement somewhere, iPhone tucked into my palm nervously glancing at it to see if any one of my 23 opponents has made a arecent play.

“Hi, I’m Nancy. I haven’t played a word in 46 seconds….”
"Hi Nancy..." all the other people with smart phones will answer.

I wake up in the middle of the night and make a play. I’ll take a break from work to see what the score of a particular game is. The other night my daughter had crawled into bed with me. My phone was under my pillow. I heard the familiar ‘ding’ when someone plays. I pulled out my phone to see…”Mom? Are you playing words? What time is it?” came her voice. I had forgotton she was even there. The glow from my phone illuminating the room. “Uhmmm, yeah. I’ll turn it off. Sorry. It’s late.”

And I did turn it off.
For a moment.

I grabbed my phone and snuck into the bathroom for a quick bladder release and a double word score.
I know. It’s sad.

It’s been years since I downloaded the app. At first I was just playing with my then boyfriend. He had a Blackberry so we would just pass my phone back and forth between us to play. We'd be out to dinner and between bites we'd make plays. I should've seen this addiction coming. But I didn't.

At the time I thought it odd to just pick up a random opponent.  But one afternoon I got bored waiting for him to get home from work to play. I wanted to play NOW. So I did. I hit the Random Opponent button. Enter in Justbreysmom. Turns out she lives in Arizona, her name is Melissa and yes, she has a son named Brey. We’ve now been playing for over 3 years. I can’t even fathom how many games we’ve completed. I feel as if I should send her a Christmas card.

I’ve many games going with people that I feel as if I know. But don’t really. There’s Km in Malassia whom I can’t tell if she cheats or not. Her knowledge of the English language is seamingly better than my own. Or sparkles4u, she (I assume she’s a she…but I really don’t know!) she either plays poorly or really really good. I’ve had to look up a few of her words just to know what they are.

The Facebook connection has gotten me playing with a lot of people now that I DO know. But I still like to pick up random games from time to time. You can always tell if they are newbies by the plays they make. Simple two letter words from the get go. One I started yesterday; her first play was “no”. Which I turned into “noirs” making it a double word, she added “head” to the s which opened up the triple.

Silly girl.
Leaving open a triple.

I’m currently beating her by 160 points. We have 48 more letters to play.
Her screen name is aptly named WeepingGirl.

Joe146 couldn’t take the heat and quit the game when he opened up the triple and I added a s to his play of zinc. It was an 86 point play. C’mon dude. Play it out! Bah.

The highest single play that I’ve ever made was 162 points. I played a triple word with the Q and Z with the Z landing on the triple letter. It was beautiful. My opponent, Jennifer, didn’t resign. She just played harder. She’s a tough competitor. Her husband, also my friend and a good scrabble player, I’ve played as well. He is currently on Words Hiatus as it was taking over his life. I'm sure I'll see him in the basement with all of us trying to desparately break free of the Words bug.

Jen and I are pretty evenly matched. She makes some stellar plays that I even scratch my head at. “Wow Jen….that was a doozy! Take it easy on me!” In our games, the median play is between 30 and 40 points. We’ve had some pretty high scoring games.

That’s all a far cry from when I used to play on that old board with my dad.

And although I love my electronic version of scrabble that I play…the memory of my playing with my folks I will always hold dear.

Oh…and the last time we played as a family? daughter joined us.

Guess who won.

She did. With a little help from dear ol’ mom when grandpa was in the bathroom. THAT score I wrote on the box.

My mother would have been so proud.

Happy Thanksgiving!
And if you want to pick up a game, you know what my screen name is: f8hasit. With a little f. Someone out there has taken it with a capital F...but that ain't me. :-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

costume miss hap...

I love Halloween.

I love the season it’s in, I love decorating the house, I love the costumes, I love the idea of playing dress up. We’re big dress up costume people year round in this house. If anyone ever needs a costume, for Halloween or otherwise, they usually call here first.

And chances are I have it, I can make it, or I can find it.
All I need is an idea…and I run with it.

My daughter a few years ago was going with a group of friends for trick or treat. They gathered at Chloes house for a tete-a-tete to figure out what indeed they would be. They poured over the most recent costume catalogs. “We can pick out whatever you want.” Chloe exclaimed, “my mom will buy them for us!”

My daughter, although enthralled with all the costumes, immediately replied, “My mother would never allow me to wear a store bought costume. Never.”

Smart girl.
And she's right.

It’s true. My thought is you can buy ‘things’ to make or go with the costume, props and such…but going to Target or Sears and picking something up? That uses no imagination. Isn’t that what Halloween costumes are about? Using your imagination?

There are several costumes that I’ve seen over the years that I thought were brilliant. Some are outstanding just because of the attention to detail in bringing a costume to life. Others are because of the wit behind the get up.

I remember one year having a party and Pete came with a head band that read “Go Pete!”. He was wearing medals around his neck and a jacket made of sponges. He carried a book around that he showed to everyone titled “All about Pete”. What was he? Why, the self absorbed man.


This past Halloween I went to a party and the host had the most elaborate costume with full duster coat, leather gloves, eel skin boots –with spurs mind you, AND a Stetson royal flush hat complete with playing cards tucked into the silver concho band. He had an intricate latex mask of a skull. What was he? Death.

Very cool. Well done, my friend. Kudos to Death.

Guys costumes are usually pretty straightforward. But I don’t understand the trend in the costumes that the girls are wearing. Not the little girls like my daughters age or her peers, but the adults. Going to an adult costume party does not mean that you need to buy your costume at Fredericks of Hollywood.

I was astounded by the amount of fishnet hose, corsets/ bustiers, platform stilettos and ruffled panties. Each outfit seemed to have at least 3 of the 4 and some went even further in pushing the envelope. I didn’t realize that the queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland had such a low cut top that when bending over her breasts would fall out. Not to mention that her uber short skirt and sheer panties, her outfit pretty much left nothing to the imagination. And she was not a runway model by any means. She was quite the ample girl. I just didn’t get it.

And her friends? They all had that same slutty mindset. Alice in Wonderland - Same outfit…fishnets, stilettos, ruffled panties and major pushup bra throwing her boobs into our faces and drinks. A pirate'ess- again, more of the same but this time with boots that I didn’t even know came that high, or tops that low. Uh, matey...your nipple has fallen into my drink.

There were in attendance all the cliché costumes. The French maid, the pussy cat, the playboy bunny, the belly dancer, the nurse, the naughty schoolgirl, the sexy nanny, the police woman....the prostitute. Yup, they were all there.

Sure, there were a few of us that had on more traditional garb. In that I mean I donned a turtleneck to go with my black angel of death outfit. Or Brookes kitshky white sheet ghost costume. Even the Bride of Frankenstien, which was fabulous, didn't have to expose tons of flesh to look wonderful...and sexy.

As I stood there assessing the costumes that the women were wearing, I started to wonder. Why is it that Halloween, for women, has become a time to get your slut on? I don’t get it? It didn't always be this way. Just because it’s an ‘adult’ party does not mean that you need to dress like an ‘adult entertainer’. This was not the playboy mansion. Our host was not Hugh Hefner. And we were not at a club.

Hell, earlier in the day I was down at Edgewater Yacht Club for their annual kids ‘trunk or treat’. Some of the members get really into it and decorate their cars for the event. There are those that even get dressed up. But the lady parked next to us was dressed with long blond wig, fish net hose, short French maid outfit and heels…at 1:00 in the afternoon for a CHILDRENS costume party. Really? And honey…look at your drivers’ license. Your 62. AND perhaps 40 pounds too heavy for that outfit to begin with. Uhmmm. Can you say ‘Inappropriate’?

There was a documentary shown at the Sundance Film Festival this year that won awards. And for good reason. It was recently aired on the Oprah Network and has a Facebook page. I believe the director, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, has her finger on the pulse of what’s happening. This isn’t about Halloween and the lack of inspiration for appropriate costuming. It’s about the media and how young girls and men perceive themselves and what they feel is the norm, or expected.

When we are constantly barraged with sex, from every standpoint, it’s no wonder that the Queen of Hearts thought her outfit was fitting. Darlin', it was TOO fitting. Trust me.

The documentary is called Miss Representation. (see the trailer here) It’s fantastic.

“In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, not in her capacity as a leader.”

Watching this film really got me to thinking about these girls dressed in their hooker outfits and what they really must think about themselves. I do believe that we, as women, are extremely influenced by media. The magazines, the catalogs, the movies. Who doesn’t want to look like a Victorias Secret model? But what is the cost?

When I was a manager at VS I found it amazing how men coming in the store would talk to us. Making sexual based comments when we would ask what they were in shopping for.

“You know, something to make my girl sexy…like you.” he said as he obviously checked me out from top to bottom.

Brushing the comment aside and trying to be polite and proffesional I asked, “is there a specific color or item you have interest in?”

“Red. Red is sexy. And slippery. I like slippery...Like silk or something.”

Alright, got it.
I steered him over towards the satin chemise’s. They are always a big seller at that price and I could add on other things to go with it depending on his input.

“What size do you think she is?”  I asked. Always a loaded question but one that you need to know to go forward. I’d almost cringe immediately after asking because you know that that's when they would look stare at you, stare at your breasts, hold out their hands like about to grab melons and say “About this big.” Or “Her tits are bigger/smaller/same as yours.”

Yeah. Amazing, huh? And a completely true story.

Many times after work the girls would go out for a drink before heading home. I loved the gals I worked with…still do! Our uniform was to wear a black suit. Didn’t matter if it was a skirt, or pants or what you wore or didn’t underneath it…just as long as it was a black suit. When we’d walk in an establishment it was pretty much known that we were the VS girls. It was like the girls in the Robert Palmer video “Addicted to Love”, heads would turn and the men would flock around us like WE were the supermodels. It was really weird.

I work for VS.
I am not in the catalog.
I am not your fantasy dream girl.

I do, however, own a lot of their lingerie…perk of the business. I am STILL after all these years pulling out of my drawers bras and panties that I bought that still have the tags on them. Thank goodness too since I like the old construction and material to the new one!

I’m a not a big womens libber or anything, but I was raised with the notion that there is nothing that I can not do…just because I’m a woman. I’ve lived by that statement my dad made to me at a very young age my whole life. I’m strong. I’m capable. I’m fierce.

I like to look good. I like to feel sexy.
But I am a very capable and smart woman too. I can’t, nor do I wish to, live any other way. I’m not going to be the one saying “Honey, I can’t get this…can you do it for me?” while batting my eyelashes and twirling my hair. Chances are that I’ll have figured out a way to accomplish my goal before I would even think about asking for help.

That being said, you can place a safe bet that it will not be me you find at a Halloween party displaying my goods. You want to see them? You’ve got to earn that right. Now granted, I’m not about to don an unattractive outfit, but I think one can look fabulous without all the low cut, up to there gear!

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker.

So what is really up with the kinky, racy, naughty outfits?

Personally, I don’t think that wearing itsy bitsy costumes brings out anything fierce in a woman. It leaves precious little to the imagination and feminine mystic. I understand that Halloween costumes are a chance to don another persona for a short time, but is that to say that every womans other self is a whore? Say it isn’t so.

Halloween in America has become a 5 billion dollar industry. And the media drives it, so all those little outfits bought? It just feeds the machine that continues to demean. And women have bought into it. The costumes used to be bought for private role play and bedroom use…now it seems everyone has deemed them appropriate for public wear.

I took another glance around at those at the party. I shook my head and I vowed that if one more girl walked in the door with one of these get-ups on, I would have to spew my drink....
THAT would have been a horrible trick.

What are your thoughts?
As women? And as guys?
…enlighten me.