Melissa Carter: A scorching Scrabble game rivals the record heat

We each had a turn with an even score, and then it happened: My sister played a non-traditional word that is accepted on Words with Friends.

If you don’t play Words with Friends, it’s basically Scrabble without the trademark. When it is your turn the computer lets you know if the word you attempt is accepted, relieving you from having to consult a dictionary.

The result is players attempting the most random combinations and hoping something sticks. When words like QI or HM score you points, you have a false sense of intelligent satisfaction. But when you attempt to translate that to an authentic Scrabble board, trouble soon follows.

Katie has never played Words with Friends, and was the first to protest when my sister, Melanie, attempted one of the aforementioned two-letter words. Arguing that the word is accepted online, Melanie grabbed my mother’s iPad to prove her point. But Katie argued if the challenged word could not be found in a tattered paperback dictionary we had available, then no points would be awarded. Unfortunately for my sister, the dictionary did not support her efforts.

That is where the tension started. As each turn passed, small sarcastic jabs were spoken between Katie and Melanie regarding the authenticity of words being played. My mother and I chose to stay out of the ribbing, since our scores at this point were not competitive with theirs.

I am not sure it is ever a good idea to begin discussing serious topics in the heat of battle, but maybe family members think it will serve as a distraction from a potential argument already in progress on the game board. 

Investments. This new debate started out innocently enough, with Katie asking Melanie what conservative investments she thought would bring about the biggest return.

But somehow that train of thought led to the advice of decades past that buying property was the most secure place for your money. (Yes, this was in the background as I am simply trying to figure out how to play tiles that included no vowels.)

The light-hearted conversation that followed centered on our current housing market. Melanie described disappointment in her property tax calculation based on a home value higher than what she could sell it for, as Katie expressed relief in profit earned from her rental properties.

That was about the time my mother complained that the random Central American music channel blaring from a TV in the next room was too loud for her to concentrate. I had a Panama City Beach water bottle nearby to stay hydrated from the heat inside and out, and was excusing myself every 15 minutes to pee.

Looking back, I couldn’t tell you who won that Scrabble game. By the time the final tile was mercilessly played, it was long after Mom’s clock had struck midnight.

What I do know is the next time media outlets start warning of the dangers of extreme heat or other natural disasters, maybe they should also include suggestions on how to survive time spent in close quarters with those you love, and fight with, the most.


Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter