I have seen a lot of different events happen while flying on airplanes. I have seen a person have a heart attack. I have flown with Lady Bird and Lynda Bird Johnson, in addition to several famous politicians and celebrities. This past week I watched a passenger get thrown off a plane before the door was closed when he pushed a flight attendant for standing over his seat.
That incident reminded me of the famous actor, Alec Baldwin, who was tossed off an American Airlines flight because he refused to quit playing the very popular mobile phone game, Words with Friends. Baldwin has never been among my favorite actors, but I admit to having some sympathy for him regarding his love for this particular game.
Words with Friends closely resembles my favorite childhood board game, Scrabble. It was a frequent pastime after Mary Lou and I got married. After all, there were only three channels on our television and you could only read so many books.
Our closets are full of the various editions of the Scrabble game, including the Deluxe version with the rotating board and the magnetic pocket sized board for playing at the beach. What fun we have had over the years playing word games.
However, like many things in life, the smart phones and tablets have changed the way we do things. We no longer pull a game out of the closet, set the board up, and turn all the letter tiles over before drawing seven letters. Now you just pull out your phone, click on the app, and the entire game is set up for you.
How much time do you have to play? How long is a traffic light red? How much time do you have for lunch? How long is a boring commercial during your favorite television show? Words with Friends is addictive if you like word games, simply because you can quickly take your turn when you have just one minute of spare time.
I have played with several different friends. A childhood friend was so good at beating me I suspected she must be cheating. Of course, it is probably because she was smart as a whip as a child and probably still is.
I occasionally played with my wife, Mary Lou. She would beat me more often than not, but we didn’t play that many games together until we were snowed in at the New York City airport. We sat for hours upon end, waiting and watching as flight after flight was cancelled. The only pastime was Words with Friends and we eventually had five or six games going at the same time. We still do.
I will be the first to admit that smart phones can be a block to good old fashioned conversation. However, there is also something to be said to be playing a game with your wife no matter where the two of you are and no matter what you are doing. Connections of any kind in a very busy world are good.
Unfortunately for me, Words with Friends keeps statistics and they aren’t usually in my favor, especially in my multiple duels with Mary Lou. To this point, she has won 120 games against me. I have won 33. Her average score is 364 while mine is 310. In the most humiliating statistic, my longest winning streak is four. Her longest winning streak is 33.
The good news, if you can believe it, is that I am getting better. My score is improving faster than hers. If we keep playing for the next 87 years, I might be able to break even. It isn’t easy being married to a smart woman.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org