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Word Play
By Della Street


"You're doing that deliberately."

Ignoring the complaint, Jo reached into the lid for two of the four tiles that were left.

"You've been doing it the whole game."

"And you've been whining about it the whole game," Jo said. She scrutinized her letters.

Too much time had passed, Jo registered vaguely a moment later. She looked up to see Blair leaning back in her chair with her arms crossed angrily.

"I refuse to continue."

"And Polniaczek wins!" Jo shouted, raising her arms in the air. "I'm up by three."

"No, you're not," Blair said. "Vulgarities like that are not allowed." She gestured disgustedly at some of Jo's best words.

"That didn't stop you from adding '-ing' to this one." Jo grinned at the memory of Blair, pained expression on her face, agonizing for long minutes, trying to come up with any other option before distastefully laying down the letters.

With a huff, Blair said, "Well, this one" – she pointed at the last word that Jo spelled out – "does not count."

"Sure it does," Jo replied. She rearranged the remaining tiles on her rack. P-S-U-Y- Hmm . . . .

Tapping at the letter combination in question, Blair insisted, "It's not a proper word."

"Sure it is," Jo said. "It means–"

"I know what it means."

"Oh, yeah," Jo recalled, "Murphy said ya had a nice pair, didn't he?"

"Do not remind me!" Blair said. "Typical Bronx hooligan."

"Hey, don't lump me in with that loser," Jo said. "I kicked his butt last week."

"You did?" Blair asked. "Why?"

"He made me mad."


Talkin' about your tits. "Eh, he ragged on my bike," Jo fudged. Changing the subject, she said, "You owe me a soda, Warner. I'll take a D.P."

"I do not."

"You lost."

"I did not," Blair said. "I challenged your word. It's not in the dictionary."

"Are you kidding?"

Blair pushed herself to her feet and strode over to the bookshelf. Leafing through a thick hardback, she said triumphantly, "Ha! Not in here."

"That's a wussy dictionary."

"It's Webster's."

"Like I said."

"Webster's," Blair repeated. "The Webster. The man who invented the dictionary."

"The Webster's great-great-grandson, more like it," Jo said. "What would he know?"

"Webster's is the official Scrabble dictionary."

"Says who?"

"The rules are on the lid," Blair pointed out, "which you know is missing."

Jo switched tactics. "Webster didn't do the first dictionary anyway," she pointed out.

"The first English dictionary."

"That was some guy in England."

"I'm talking about American English," Blair said. "Not whatever it is that you speak."

In the dining room, Tootie set down her textbook with a bang. "Done!" she declared.

"About time," Natalie said. "I'm bored stiff."

Seated at a nearby table, Mrs. Garrett calmly wrote out the next week's menu.

"Let's go watch Jo and Blair fight!" Nat suggested.

Mrs. Garrett frowned. "Now, girls," she said, "don't encourage them."

"We don't have to," Natalie said. "They're together in the same room. Go check it out, Tootie."

As instructed, the girl hopped up and trotted over to the entrance to the lounge, peering into the room from a safe place around the corner.

"You wouldn't know a good dictionary if you tripped over it. T-R-I-P!"

"And you wouldn't know a good dictionary if I hit you over the H-E-A-D with it, which I'm about to do!"

"I thought you said this wasn't a good dictionary!"

Tootie returned to the couch and plopped down. "They're arguing about dictionaries," she reported.

"Oh, surely not," Mrs. Garrett chuckled. "What is there to argue about?"

"Don't underestimate them," Natalie replied.

"Tu es une vraie plaie!"

Jo glared at her. "What?"

Blair shrugged innocently.

"I'm gonna look that up, and then I'm gonna make you eat it." Jo strode through the door into the dining room. "Who did the first dictionary?" she asked her three housemates.

None of them had a clue.

Over her shoulder, Jo yelled, "Get a move on, Warner, the library closes in twenty-five minutes."

Blair emerged from the other room, sliding her arms into a jacket. "You are such a barbarian." Snidely, she added, "That's from the Greek for barbarian."

"Yeah, well, you know what you are?" Jo countered. "I'll define it for you and use it in a sentence." She handed Blair a helmet, then followed her outside and slammed the door behind them.

Edna watched them go, then laid her head on the table. "Is there anything they won't fight about?"

"Umm . . . ," Natalie mused, "no. Up for some Scrabble, Tootie . . . ?"

The End

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