May we accept and cherish ties

Dear President Biden,

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Laura and I have been playing Scrabble lately. What I didn’t say is that we’re back to playing almost every night after not playing at all during your predecessor’s invasion of the Oval Office. It’s one of the things I’m grateful to you for since it’s really so wonderful to have both the time and the headspace to be able to hang out together like this rather than me being swamped with angst and needing to churn out a letter-screed to the turkey every day. (Yes, it was a self-imposed mandate, but it felt critically important – probably because it was something that was in my control – so things like Scrabble were shelved for many, many moons.)

We don’t watch much TV and we’re both too tired at the end of the day to engage in anything particularly demanding, so Scrabble’s been our go to in the evenings for years and years – decades and decades now, really – and it feels good to be back in this particular cozy little habit of ours. At this point we could probably almost wallpaper our little bathroom with the old score sheets.

Lest you think we’re stuck in some sort of long-term couple rut here, we’ve introduced a new twist on our nightly Scrabble, which is to play “outdoor Scrabble.” We’ve lived in our house for 22 years now, but until this summer when inside has felt too damn hot night after night, outdoor Scrabble never once occurred to us. Now it’s the default even though we have to plug in the lights and get sweaters toward the end of the game.

Part of the reason for telling you all this is that I want to record for posterity that two nights ago after slogging through a particularly hard board (e.g. one where the tiles were jammed in together and there were zero obvious places to play a good 85% of the time), Laura and I tied for the first time ever. We both got 342, which for both of us was quite a high score. If you and/or Jill are really good Scrabble players this won’t seem remarkable to you, but for us, that’s a good showing. And the thing is, we were really, truly tied – at the end of the game there were no places for me to play my three vowels (2 I’s and a U) and no place for her to play her five vowels (1 A, 2 I’s, and 2 U’s) so we tied. And we were both pretty thrilled.

It occurred to me later that we could maybe have manufactured some way to break the tie and we’ve played with people who probably know some official way to break a Scrabble tie, but how great to tie. I love ties. When both parties have given it their all and they come up right even with each other, it’s kind of special.

And, a tie sure beats what happened yesterday, which was that I lost 230 to 374. Ouch! We’ve never, ever had a spread like that before. Dang if she didn’t get all the S’s, both the blanks, the Q, the Z, the X, the K, and most of the W’s Y’s, C’s, P’s, and M’s. About 3/5ths of the way into it I did get the letters to spell CRABBY (seriously – I never lie to you), but I couldn’t put even one of them on a double letter or milk any extra points out of the deal so I’m afraid it just compounded my crabbiness. Half the time I had all low value consonants and the other half I had all vowels. On one level I could see the humor in it – it was pretty absurd how bad it was – but unfortunately I really was a crabby fuss-budget about the whole thing. I don’t think, though, that my fussiness dampened Laura’s spirits too much so thankfully, I think she’ll grant me a rematch soon.

May we all be safe to play.
May we make plenty of space for happiness and joy.
May we have the ego strength to be good sports when we lose (this is a note to self, for sure).
May we accept and cherish ties.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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