Monday, September 21, 2009

I Don't Play Scrabble or How to Castrate a Dickhead

Couple of weeks ago I was in a beach house crashing on a couch in the early evening. I was slightly stoned and was reading The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian: The Original Adventures of the Greatest Sword and Sorcery Hero of All Time! by Robert E. Howard. Talk about moneyshots! No, I'm kidding, not porn, just pulpy fantasy fiction. Behind me at a table, two pseudo-intellectuals were playing Scrabble, loudly. Given that I was slightly stoned, I was able to more or less ignore their annoying habit of announcing their words and scores so the whole house would know how smart they were.

Then they asked if I wanted to play. I politely declined.

I had spent the entire weekend trying my best to never establish eye contact with any of the nine people I was sharing the beach house with, except maybe the hot wife of one of the suits playing Scrabble. The only thing I had in common with these people was a love of the beach and a significant lack of discretionary funds.

They insisted. They had an inkling that I was some kind of hack writer because I had opened my yap on an occasion when I was more than slightly stoned. There's nothing Wall Street types like better than proving that they are smarter than you no matter how dumb they actually are.

There are four kinds of Scrabble. There's the fun kind when you are playing with kids. There's the fun kind when you are really drunk and are only allowed to use curses and funny words for male and female genitalia. There's the un-fun kind when you are playing with a banker that has memorized every 3-letter word in the Scrabble dictionary. You know, stupid words like qat and qoph. The fourth kind of Scrabble is tournament level Scrabble. Tournament level Scrabble is not even about words. It's about math. It's won by guys that don't even speak english or who spent their middle school days memorizing pi to 69 decimal places. (Yeah, ok, I did that too but it was cool cause 69 was some kind of sex position and I never claimed I wasn't a math geek.)

If the pompous guy opens up his Scrabble box and there is a dog-eared Scrabble dictionary shoved in there amongst the tiles, punch out because no fun will be had. The brain cells I would have used to memorized three letter words for Pakistani tribal leaders were lost to the third joint of the day back in the 11th grade and you know what? I'm glad.

But these gin and tonic sipping dickheads really wanted to show me up and would not stop whining about how much fun I would have and why was I scared.

So I laid the fourth kind of Scrabble on them.

I told them about the article I read in MIT's alumi magazine about tournament Scrabble. I explained that real Scrabble players have all 43,560 words in the dictionary memorized. I explained that really good players count tiles and during the end game know exactly what tiles you have and what words you can make. I told them that the best player in the world was a Thai named Pitiwong Tandichook that can't even speak english. (Not his real name. I told you I can't remember shit. Pitiwong was a guy I went to grad school with that was studying non-commercial bivalves in Phang Nga Bay. Oh, and, 43,560 is the number of square feet in an acre. For whatever reason that particular brain cell is Cannabis impenetrable.)

The important thing when you are castrating a dickhead is not the actual facts but knowing their weaknesses. Exploit these weaknesses making sure to leave only a bloody stump. These particular dickheads were not going to be displaying any moneyshots that night. They played another game or two, quietly -- and then went off to a bar.

Score one for the math geek.

Now, if we could only really sterilize all the Wall Street dickheads in the world, the future would be a brighter place.

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