Friday – this week I am grateful for … scrabble

It is day nine million of the school holidays. The rot has really set in. The Talking Boy is back with us. He is known as ‘the talking boy’ not only to distinguish him from the boy who doesn’t yet talk, but also because he never stops talking. Ever. He talks, nay shouts, even in his sleep. He talks about movies, computer games and most recently, he talks without cease about cars. Fast expensive cars. All the time. He talks through every tv show, every movie, every conversation.A lot of time and energy has been invested in demonstrating the art of conversation; where each party has a turn and it is a dialogue. He still doesn’t really understand what this means.

Day one million of the school holidays

One evening this week after a good day, with a reasonable amount of talking, we decided to have a game of scrabble. The three of us. Together, in our household, we have four sets of scrabble. One newish one, Robert’s, one other newish one, mine, travel scrabble and a coveted old one with solid tiles, that, while they are made of plastic, remind me of the really old wooden ones. Old scrabble doesn’t get out much, lest it be damaged in some way. After dinner, we cleared away and then I sent Talking Boy to get the scrabble. It’s on a high shelf and he is now much taller than me (well that’s my excuse). ‘Which one?’ he asked, ‘we have four’.

After selecting the correct box and bringing it to the table I was wiping down, we discussed rules. ‘We all have to wash our hands’, I said.  As a child I was never allowed to play board games or cards without washing my hands and old habits die hard. So we all washed our hands. Then Talking Boy, getting into the spirit of the evening’s entertainment said ‘should I dress up too?’ ‘Of course, if you like’ I said. He raced off to his room and came back wearing a blue check collared shirt; with boardshorts. An excellent look. ‘We need some music’ I said. ‘You go and choose something.’ Talking Boy wanders over to the CDs.

‘Scrabble.’ he said, ‘Music for scrabble. Intelligent music. Bob Dylan.’ He is thirteen.

He has selected a two disc compilation of Dylan for our scrabble evening. Carrying on my family’s traditions, I wrote our initials in block capitals at the top of each column of the score sheet. Talking Boy has four initials – and thus obtains a new nickname for himself he hadn’t thought of – ELLG. Then we have a round of what’s your name spelled backwards and much laughter.

We chose who goes first and have the first few turns. All going well. The Talking Boy has a handful of consonants and not much else which makes it difficult. He gets a bit of help. Then ‘Hurricane’ comes on. Bob Dylan’s 1975 protest song about wrongful arrest and racism. For those readers born after 1975 it about a boxer named Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter who was wrongfully accused of murder in 1966. The talking boy starts singing along. He knows ALL the words to the song, and I mean word perfectly. Hurricane is a deeply serious song. It is eight and a half minutes long.

Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Talking Boy then sang and played air guitar for the whole eight and a half minutes, in a perfect imitation of Dylan, who was struggling for a hearing over the boy. It was very distracting. It took me eight and a half minutes to even form a word so I could have a turn, I was laughing so hard.

After a few more turns, a lot of help and much more singing, including a rendition of Scar Tissue and several other Chili Peppers songs, the Talking Boys’ focus wanders. He starts rearranging the titles in his tray to form cool sounding nonsense words that are potentially names for not-yet acquired cats. Ekvaz is right up there as my favourite. He saves the best ones as a note in his ipod. He starts talking about other things.

His father and I get a bit competitive. His father starts to try to cheat, a lot. He tries to table non-words. He allows ‘weirded’ and then I give Talking Boy ‘Kevlar’, just because he not only had the tiles, but knows what the word is, what it means and what it’s for. He gets many many points for it – having both a k and a v helps. Much hilarity ensures.

It was just a game of scrabble, but it was much much more as well. It was an example of the best of the three of us coming together. It was a triumph of the simple pleasures.

That’s the story of the Hurricane
But it won’t be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he’s done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.