First, there was Doodle Jump. My daughter introduced me to this silly game on our mobile phones.
A cute little beastie jumps higher and higher, while you tilt your phone to make sure he doesn't miss a platform, or slam head-on into any goofy-looking aliens, or get sucked into a black hole. Sometimes you can help him catch a ride on a helicopter or, better, a rocket ship, for some serious altitude advancement.
I was hooked. My evenings and weekends were consumed. I could not be distracted from beating my personal best, and more importantly, beating my daughter's best score. Family roles became weirdly reversed, as if we were caught in an alternate universe (like the one where Mr. Spock had a beard). "Mom! Stop playing that game this very instant and take your dinner dishes to the sink!"
Oh, such an innocent was I.
Last week, while at lunch with a girlfriend, she took my phone and downloaded Wordfeud -- a Scrabble-like game. Later that day, I received the message that marked the end of time as I know it: "BugSquasher is inviting you to play Wordfeud. Do you accept?"
Oh, to go through a time portal (like the one where Dr. McCoy saved Edith Keeler's life) and reject the invitation. What might I have accomplished in that other timeline! I could have bought and snail mailed my Christmas presents, painted the house inside and out, and written that Broadway show -- music and lyrics.
Instead, I've been in mortal combat with BugSquasher (like the time when Captain Kirk fought the Gorn). She suckered me in with a game in which I soundly beat her. Then, she destroyed me in Game 2 and decimated me in Game 3. She plays words like "za", "qat", and "ki". She always manages to play on the dreaded triple word score, which is apparently caught in some rip in the space-time continuum that doesn't allow my letters near it.
After years of leaving my phone at home, letting its batteries run down, or forgetting its existence in my purse, it is now welded onto my palm, which is sweaty in anticipation of BugSquasher's next play. The last things I see before bed are my 7 tiny tiles, as I desperately make a move that I hope won't set up my nemesis. The first thing I reach for upon waking is that same taunting phone, to see if BugSquasher took a turn while I restlessly dreamed of letters marching in swirls around me, spelling words like "bo", "lin", and "enate".
I write this as I await BugSquasher's next play. I have picked up the phone 47 times to double-check. Perhaps it is not too late for me to enlist in a 12-word -- I mean, 12-step -- program for word game addicts. There. I have admitted I have a problem. I can stop anytime I want, just like I can stop making Star Trek allusions. I have everything under contr...wait. My phone buzzed. Gotta go.