When You Have Words with Friends

You learn something new every day.

Words I have written on my novel so far: 17,287

Words with Friends games I have going right now: 4

Miles run today: 4.5

It is a little embarrassing when you are a writer and you lose a game of Words with Friends.

My BFF practically skipped to our run because she creamed me with words yesterday: as Amy Duncan on “Good Luck Charlie” would say: “Ba-bam!”

When I was younger and we went to my grandmother’s house for a week each summer, my sister and I used to play Scrabble with my grandmother. My sister is four and a half years younger. My grandmother was very good at Scrabble.

I was middling, and I never got much better. Strategy is apparently not my strong suit in life, and Triple Letter and Triple Word scores are not helpful when the tiles you hold are: REAOUIL.

So when my son wanted to get the “Words with Friends” app to whup me with while away the long summer hours, I agreed.

Now, years after all other people in the Known Universe have moved on to complex apps, our family has become obsessed with it. Two hours this weekend consisted of us, sitting out on the deck, waiting for pings from our various electronic devices.

Why? You might ask. We have a perfectly good turntable-ish hard copy Scrabble board. But oh, how fun it is to touch the screen and put tiles on the board and then recall them when the app tells you it isn’t really a word. I must have tried a million “RECRY”s and “PILIS” words that actually do not exist.

I love words. I know a lot of words. A lot, I tell you. I do not actually know a lot of words that make use of the letters “OIAOEIQ.” And yes, I know “QI” counts as a word in Scrabble.

This weekend, I learned from my husband that “JOW” is a word, although I have never heard it before and secretly wonder if he pretended to look up the definition. My husband is not supposed to know about bell tolling kinds of words; he is supposed to only know unhelpful science-y words like “deoxyribonucleic acid” and “ethylene” which are not Scrabble-ish words.

He got irritated when I played “QUOTH.”

My son got irritated when I beat him by about a hundred points.

“I am 28 years older than you and a writer,” I said, not very secretly excited that there is at least one person I can beat, even if he is only 11.

“But some of your words aren’t real,” he said.

“Words with Friends thinks they are,” I said happily.


Words with Friends does not reward me for knowing SAT vocabulary words like “recalcitrant” and “aesthete.” Those are words I can wrap my head around.

I’m studying up, all you “QI”s out there. If I see a Triple Letter score, you better believe I’m on it. And quite frankly, tiles full of vowels are starting to scare me. I really, really like consonants.

But good news! The Words with Friends app does the math part for you. That’s when I decided it’s my kind of game.