Hi. My name is Kate and I’m a Poor Sport. I don’t think there is a twelve step program for people like me, but I’m writing today to come clean and admit this character default.
What prompted this confession? Well, when my son Chris was home he suggested that we could play Words with Friends together after he returned to Australia. Since I am happy for any reason to connect with my darling boy, I agreed. Before I knew it, we were on the virtual Scrabble board together and at the same time, I had also agreed to a request to play from my friend Ann.
Now I remember why I stopped playing Scrabble.
While I would not go so far as to call myself a Wordsmith, I obviously love writing or I wouldn’t be doing this. You may find an error now and then, but I’m pretty anal about spelling and grammar. Always have been. I also have a talent for spelling (not infallible, but better than many), which I feel is a genetic gift. My grandmother was a proof reader! And during the years I wrote for “Beverage Industry” magazine with three adorable guys (best job I ever had!), they quickly learned that they could slack off and leave the editing to me, the natural-born Grammar Nazi.
As a consequence, their stories were all as clean as the proverbial whistle while my own copy occasionally squeaked by with stupid typos and other errors. As any writer will tell you, it’s infinitely easier to edit someone else’s copy than your own.
When I played Scrabble as a kid and young adult, I won a lot. I had/have a decent vocabulary and would rearrange the tiles on the holder, searching for the longest possible word to put on the board. At some point the Scrabble Dictionary (at which I SCOFF) came into existence and changed the game.
Scrabble was no longer solely about knowing vocabulary and trying to strategically place words across the double or triple word squares. You also had to memorize what I think of as “non-words” that became acceptable for Scrabble, but NOT acceptable in normal speech and writing.
I refused to learn non-words and found myself stomping away from games in a Poor Sport huff when Scrabble-savvy players racked up points with non-words like “qat.” (Really, Chris? Really?)
So I decided that I will finish these games with smarty pants Chris and Ann and them I am DONE. By the way, I even Googled one word and it came up as “a word accepted by Words With Friends but that has no definition.” How can a word without a definition be a word? (Really, Ann? Really?)
Oh, I am SUCH a Poor Sport.
And it doesn’t end there. I finally had to stop playing card games a couple of years ago. When you play any card game, from the intricacies of bridge to playing “Go Fish” with your pre-school nephew, there’s an element called Luck that is completely independent from any skill you may have nurtured with any given game. You can be freaking Omar Sharif playing world-class contract bridge but if you don’t get a decent hand, there’s only so much skill can do for you.
I had to give up learning to play golf back in the early 90’s, too. The problem was that as a single mom with a demanding job, I didn’t have the time or money to play more than once a week. And here’s the thing about golf: if you don’t play frequently, you just aren’t going to get any better at the game. That means playing a round of golf, oh, probably at least three times a week during the short Ohio golfing season – at least while you’re learning and trying to improve your basic game.
So the one time a week I’d play in a nine-hole evening league with people from work, it was almost like starting over again each time. People were inevitably kind and encouraging, but as I would 10-putt a hole, the steam would be rolling out of my ears and if I were able to grit my teeth any tighter, I could probably have converted coal to diamonds.
It. Was. Not. Fun. In fact, it was embarrassing and frustrating and I got to the point where I was practically snarling (inside) before I even approached the first tee. I had to bite my tongue as friends made well-meaning suggestions about keeping my head down or changing my stance. It was all I could do to avoid snapping, SHUT THE HELL UP.
I wish I could be like my sister-in-law, Donna. Donna truly sucks at playing golf and simply DOES NOT CARE. She laughs and enjoys the sunshine and has a jolly old time out on the course. Now, that’s how people should play all games. I get that.
But I just can’t do it.
It’s not that I always have to win, but I have to feel I have as good a chance as anyone at winning and that if I try really hard, I actually COULD win. I don’t want to be at the mercy of “bad cards” or a tray full of one point vowels.
So dear ones, don’t invite me to play Words with Friends or Candy Crush. Don’t ask me over to play Bunko or Pinochle. Count me out on bowling night. Don’t call to see if I’m interested in a game of Pictionary with the family.
I’m Kate, and I’m a Poor Sport. Don’t invite me to play anything with you . . . unless you want me to come over and kick your ass at Trivial Pursuit.
(insert smiley face here)