Thursday, May 20, 2010

Words With Friends

I have an iPhone. I am not necessarily proud of having partaken of that indulgence, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am grateful to have it. My iPhone keeps me in constant contact with family, friends, and students. The text messages that pop up with “I love you!” at random times of the day and the “How’s it going”, even the “What’s for dinner?” let me know that someone is thinking about me in the midst of his or her busy day. Having access to my email at any point in the day is also a much appreciated luxury. I know which students will not be in class, what time rehearsal is, what’s on sale at Staples, and often there are just kind words from friends. Occasionally I even get a phone call. Having this technology is often a diversion, but I would hate to live without it after having become, admittedly, so dependent on it.

A month or two ago, while I was in the midst of my horrendously busy semester, a friend sent me a message inviting me to join in something called “Words With Friends”, an online game like Scrabble. At that point I declined the invitation because I just didn't have time for any distractions in my life. The semester ended Friday giving me some time to take a deep breath, relax a little, and engage in a little distraction before redirecting my undivided attention to all the events of this summer. On Tuesday my friend, knowing my school schedule or lack thereof, again invited me to play. I accepted. Big mistake!

She and I began a game on Tuesday. Though I knew the basic premise of the game, it took me a few moves to figure out the mechanics of the phone version. It also took me only a few moves to realize the addictive power of this game. Wednesday morning I talked Weber, who is not much of a game player, into playing with me. And then, Offspring No. 2 joined me in a third game. Despite the initial reluctance that both Weber and I had to playing Words With Friends, we are both hooked now.

Throughout the day yesterday I continually received messages saying that one of the three different people that I am playing with had made a play and that it was my turn. It was entertaining and it was fun. In fact, last night during an absolutely miserable rehearsal, playing these games was the only thing that kept me from either saying something that would have not been nice at all or running away screaming. During our rehearsal break, someone who sits behind me stopped me and said, “You are just killing me down there playing Words With Friends!” To which I replied, “Sorry. I was so doing my best not to kill anyone!” With a chuckle, we both headed to the water fountain and back to the misery that was rehearsal.

Weber and I finally got home last night at nearly eleven after leaving the house at 6 am. We accomplished the obligatory end-of-day chores – dishes, swapping laundry, tending the cat box, and making the next day’s lunches – and headed downstairs to get ready for bed, both with phones showing a low battery message. Offspring No. 2 turned off the TV and also headed to her room for the night. As Weber and I took turns in the bathroom, we also took turns making “one last play.” Fifteen minutes later we found ourselves, teeth brushed and in our PJs, lying side by side on the bed making game moves as if we were amidst a great volley in ping-pong rather than a sedentary game of Words With Friends. We were playing against the clock in many ways – the diminishing power levels on our phones, the alarm clock that read midnight, and our own “power levels”, which, in my case, was lower than my phone’s at that point. (Somewhere in this lurks a New Yorker cartoon!) Addiction being what it is, we finished the game before turning out the lights. I lost but had great fun in the process!

As Weber set the alarm clock, I got the last word in, or so I thought; I started a new game for today. Little did I know that my precious daughter was still awake and as I plugged in my nearly dead phone, it chimed with the message alert letting me know that she had played and again it was my turn. A quick glance revealed that she had played the word “mated.” With that, we went to bed. . .

. . .and continued this morning.