Monday, September 8, 2008

Opening Rack

We're a happy couple who've heard "Get a room!" our fair share of times. We sort of already have one, though. It's called Starbucks, and it's our haven for endless games of Scrabble - so much so that the local baristas learn our usual drink orders within a week or two. We'd never dream of trying to steal Winter's gig of visiting every Starbucks there is. But we certainly wouldn't mind if, one day, he happened to pick our local Starbucks to wander into. He'd probably find us there on any given day or time, and we'd be more than happy to start up a game ;-)

We're Michael and Heather, most recently both of northern Ohio. Michael's 28 and is a domestic relations attorney in private practice in Port Clinton. He enjoys politics and Ohio State football, and would love to finally find an open bingo line to play DIVORCE. Heather is 24 and works as a speech-language pathologist in Cleveland, after recently moving from her hometown of Ann Arbor, MI. (Yes, she roots for that *other* team - football Saturdays would probably be pretty heated if she actually cared about a bunch of men wearing spaceman suits and crashing into each other every three feet!) She's enamored with music by the band Lifehouse and with following figure skating and gymnastics, despite her utter lack of past, present, or future ability to take up either of these sports. She dreams of the day she'll get to play ATAXICS.

We met in June 2006 on Despite being polar opposites in one respect - Michael was becoming disillusioned with the world of online dating after having been registered for two years; Heather, confident that all men attempting to date online were crazy people, had signed on on a whim just the night before Michael emailed her - we clicked immediately. As they say, the rest is history.

And most of it, actually, is Scrabble history. We were both casual players in our youths. Heather now bemoans the existence of a picture documenting a board on which she played the phony two RA, having no idea it isn't good. Michael wishes he could erase the memories of being beaten routinely in Scrabble by his mother, grandmother, and at least three good friends, all of whom are living room players with no vested interest in the game.

It was only on our third date that things began to crystallize slowly for us as serious players. We decided to play a game of Scrabble at Bubble Island in Ann Arbor. (Heather won, and has won more than 60% of our games since then.) Scrabble became an intermittent guest in our activity plans - but only one game at a time, 'cause who had ever heard of playing more than that in one sitting? It was June of 2007 before Michael brought up a novel idea - we both like Scrabble, and there are tournaments, sanctioned by the National Scrabble Association (yes, there is one); maybe there would be some around us? Maybe we should actually think about playing in one? Could be fun....

A Carol Ravichandran tourney in Battle Creek in September of 2007 was our initiation into the world of competitive Scrabble. Tile gods, you've had us hook, line, and sinker ever since. We simply pray for power (tiles), wisdom (to forever obey the Golden Rule: Thou Shalt Not Open Needlessly Thy Triple), and thoughtfulness (to remember what exactly is in that seemingly perplexing AADEINR rack).

Since then, Scrabble has become a compelling passion for us, even lending the name for the blog. When we find a weekend without a Scrabble tournament or some other diversion, we are frequently at one of the aforementioned Starbucks, "practicing" Scrabble. (We call it practicing, even though it is so darn much fun.) These practice sessions can go seven or even eight games in a day.

Prior to Heather's move from Ann Arbor, our favorite spot to play was the Starbucks on South University. We got to know the staff pretty well. One day, the manager said to Michael, "I'm almost embarassed to ask, but what's your name?" When Michael supplied it, the manager asked for Heather's name. "Well, my staff has nicknamed you 'The Scrabble Couple,' and I figured we needed some names!"

We didn't realize we'd attracted so much attention. Who would think that sitting down with a customized Scrabble board, using a chess clock, and frequently announcing, "I love you so much! Now let's beat each other's brains out!" could bring such notoriety?

Hence, the name of the blog. Our purpose? To give you an inside look into what it's like to combine love for each other with love for this complex, maddening and underappreciated game.

And we hope, too, that in chronicling our Scrabble adventures in this blog, we are not QIS-y and do not make you QOPH in disbelief at our antics or our musings.

Enjoy! This blog will, hopefully, become filled with posts from one or both of us regularly. And may the J, Q, X, and Z be with you.

Except, of course, if you're playing either of us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heather -
Congratulations on your win in Battle Creek. That put you on the front page of for high rating gain in the last 12 months. Any chance that you and Michael will make it to Fenton January 3-4?
Jeff Clark