Buffalo, New York.
Day Two of the Nationals. No, wait. It’s Day Three.
People begin to blend into one another, especially in my division—Division Three. Or maybe it’s Division Two. Let me check my nametag. Three.
Yesterday I sat down at Table 5, my assigned place for the first game of the day. Everything looked different, kind of hazy and Twilight Zone-like.
“Are you Diana?” I asked a young man with glasses.
He looked at my nametag.
“You’re in the wrong division. This is Four.”
My score sheets look like the scribblings of a drunken monkey trying to learn our numeral system.
I can’t seem to find my way out of the convention center back to the Hyatt. I should have brought some bread crumbs.
The Nationals will do this to you.
Unless, of course, you’re a sharp and steady player with an already firm grasp of reality.
“Have you played any interesting words?” my husband asked last evening. (I managed to get out of the convention center by following a group of players from Division One.)
“I played words.”
“I played WINSOMER for 98 points—a double-double—and then later ETTERCAP, which is only good in Collins, for 80 points, and also WHISKER for 116. I scored 487 in ten moves. My opponent went first and scored 501 in eleven moves.”
“Good for you.”
“If you write about this remember to put the # after ETTERCAP to signify that it’s Collins. You don’t want to unintentionally mislead people.”
“An ETTERCAP# is a spider. The variant spellings are ETHERCAP# and ATTERCOP#.”
“If you don’t stop this minute I’m calling hotel security.”
Marty is playing in the Collins division, which uses the international dictionary. Collins is a tough division, as is Division One. And Two. And Three is no piece of cake. Four—well, I could do very well in Division Four. And I could probably sweep the student division, where everyone is in grade school.
“I do remember an interesting word I played,” I tell Marty. “I played PENIS!”
This tickled my opponent, a very nice and proper young man, to no end. A few turns later he played AROUSED! We giggled like naughty school children.
“I’ve never had a game like this,” my opponent said excitedly.
To top it off, I played CACA.
This is the difference between players in Collins and Division Three. Collins players make words like ETTERCAP#. Division Three players make CACA.