You don’t mind if I talk to you from behind this letter tray, do you? I know hiding is undignified, but to be a privileged 10-pointer in hard times begets a bunker mentality. These days, if I land on a triple-letter square, I hear the vowels mumbling about the “unfair bonus.” If only they would concede that they, too, benefit when someone plays “quetzal.” It doesn’t help that I start the word "queen"—or used to back when U would speak to me. Oh dear, here comes that gang of unplayed A’s again. Have to duck.
Dude, I was on a roll a few years ago: pulling Scrabulous dividends, making major bank on real-estate investments way out in the corners of the board. I was so flush I paid some venture guys to do a cost-benefit analysis on the playability potential of “x-treme” and “x-factor.” We were all set to introduce the hyphen tile when the crash hit. This “8” tattoo on my pec? Meaningless. Got it in Bali. All I got left of my high-point days. Now I’m just trying to keep up my payments on the condo and get motivated to use the Wii, you know? Follow me on Twitter.
I’m trying to be Zen about it. For me, points have always been a label others put on you. They’re not indicative of your true worth. I’m a rich tile. I sleep in a cozy communal letter pouch, enjoy the occasional gentle caress of a human forefinger, and do intellectually stimulating work. What else does one need? When the lid is shut on the game box for the last time and no one can see anyone else’s point value … will it have mattered? The point is not the point, I like to say.
First, just in case you didn’t know, there’s only one of me. I am the last maverick and the last letter in maverick. You’d never see me asking for a bailout, and not just because I ain’t in that word. Times like this, you gotta pick yourself up and keep spelling. I spent a good part of the ‘70s stuck under a twin bed fighting dust bunnies, but I didn’t do that just to have it all taken away in some point-redistribution system. Aren’t those double-word-score squares enough of a welfare program?
As a government consultant who used to work for Monopoly, I see this as an exceptional moment in which we can change the way this board is played forever. In my Troubled Alphabet Relief Program, we double the available squares to 450, triple the value of letters worth eight points or more, and replace the pink squares with affordable real-estate opportunities. I see even Baltic Avenue bouncing back by Q3.
I’m rattling around the box, not sure what to do. I had a good thing. Smack in the middle of the alphabet. Regular routine. One double-M word like “yummy” and I was done for the night. On a good day, I’d land on a triple-letter, go home, and take the kids for ice cream. Thought I’d save enough for a family vacation to the reverse side of the board—Redland. See the Giant Crease from the other side. The sunrise over that is supposed to be beautiful. Now I guess that’s one more thing I won’t be able to give my wife.
Use of the present participle—better known as “-ing” words—is down 85 percent on the board since this same month last year. And so is my income. Those words were my bread and butter! And whose fault is it? The politicians! Last fall, presidential candidates were dropping me from the ends of words to try to sound folksy—and now everybody’s doing it. They hopin’-ed and helpin’-ed this non-elite right out of work. I’m thinking of retraining as an apostrophe and getting out of this game altogether.
I speak for the sometimes-silent majority. We fear our point value will be reduced to zero and that the AUL-SIO (American Union of Letters and Spellers of Industrial Organizations) will become irrelevant. All we ask is for honest work and to live in dignity. I hope someone in charge of this mess can pull off a major bingo.