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It’s Only A Game
 

by Lina Rehal

 

 

Rita and Nick met at a birthday party for a mutual friend. She was drawn to his deep blue eyes and charismatic smile. He was easy to talk to. They had a lot in common. Both enjoyed walking, reading, playing golf, movies and Scrabble. He invited her to lunch the following Saturday.

 

She found him interesting and fun to be with. They walked the beach Sunday afternoon. He took her to the movies a couple of times. They talked about playing golf together.

 

“He seems nice, so far,” Rita told her friend, Grace. “He invited me over to play Scrabble.”

 

Grace questioned his motives. “Scrabble? I’ve never heard it called that before.”

 

“I’m not kidding. He’s challenged me.”

 

“He really wants to play Scrabble?” Grace was still skeptical.

 

“He’s very competitive. That’s why I don’t want to play golf with him. I think he takes it too seriously.”

 

“Are you going to accept his challenge?”

 

“I guess so. I’m good at it. I don’t know how he’ll take it if he loses.”

 

“No!” screamed Grace. “You can’t beat him! What are you thinking? They hate to lose and especially to women.”

 

“You’re saying I should let him win.”

 

Grace rolled her eyes. “Of course you have to let him win. If you want to keep on dating him, you do.”

 

“That just isn’t right. What happens if we play golf? I will not throw a golf game to bolster a guy’s ego.”

 

“I didn’t say it was right. I’m only telling you how it is. Whatever you do, don’t beat him.”

 

Rita got a kick out of Grace, but she didn’t believe in letting a man win a game just to make him feel good about himself. She liked playing Scrabble and was good at it. She decided to accept Nick’s challenge and not worry about who wins. After all, it was only a game.

 

Rita arrived at Nick’s house at six o’clock on Saturday. They ate pizza, listened to music and talked about the Red Sox. When they finished eating, Nick was ready for the game. “Why don’t you pour yourself a glass of wine and get me a beer, while I set up the
board?"

 

“Okay.”

 

When she returned with their drinks, Nick was smiling. “I have to warn you. I’m good at this.”

 

She thought he sounded a bit smug. He certainly is confident. “Is that so?”

 

His smile disappeared. “I play to win.”

 

Rita sat across from him. With a serious expression on his face, he pondered the tiles in front of him. She thought of what Grace had said about winning. Surely, he wouldn’t want to win like that, would he?

 

Nick took the lead and continued winning for the first several rounds. He questioned one of her words and referred to the dictionary he had placed on the table. He wasn’t happy when the word in question was correct. He bragged about games he had won in the past and reminded her that he was a master at it. Rita didn’t like this side of him. She began to take it more seriously herself.

 

By the middle of the game, there was no small talk at all between them. Nick still had the lead, but she was closing the gap. In several instances, he spelled words incorrectly and got upset when she called him on it. She caught him trying to sneak a peek at her letters.

 

When Rita was able to use the “Q” that had been holding her back, she took the lead. He was only able to make short words and could not utilize the high point letters he held. He whined and swore a lot. She could only imagine what golfing with him would be like and knew it would never happen.

 

When the game was over, Nick had various excuses as to why he had lost. He didn’t give her any credit for playing a good game. He made it sound like she won by accident. Nick was a sore loser.

 

“You deliberately distracted me.”

 

She couldn’t believe he was trying to blame her for his loss. “No I didn’t.”

 

When that didn’t work, he tried to brush it off. “It’s no big deal.”

 

Rita wasn’t about to let it go that easily. “What isn’t? That you lost, or that I won?”

 

Nick didn’t answer. He turned on the TV and sulked. She waited, hoping he might apologize and admit that he acted like a spoiled child. At ten o’clock, she thanked him for the pizza and got up to leave.

 

“I’m sorry,” he said, sheepishly, as he walked her to the door. “I get carried away with the game sometimes. I warned you I take it seriously. I’ll give you a call during the week. If the weather’s good, maybe we can play golf.”


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