But Boggle’s forbidden status goes deeper than mere annoyance. It was during a game of Boggle that I learned valuable things about myself.
Do you watch Big Bang Theory? I love that show. I have a thing for smart-running-on-nerdy television. It’s the same reason I still watch Frasier reruns. And I thoroughly enjoy the science/academic humor on BBT. But think about it, and be really honest for a second: let’s imagine that Dr. Sheldon Cooper and Leonard invited you to play a friendly game of Boggle?
No. You would say no flat out. Because you would know that you were about to get spanked and you would say, “No, thank you, I would rather avoid that.”
Which is precisely what I should have done. I was in graduate school and living with two friend-roommates who are two of the smartest people I know, hands down. But hey! We were all in the same graduate program. We all went through the same application process. I’m their intellectual equal, right?
No. Wrong. Commence with the spank.
One of my roommates is Greek. Like, grew up in Cyprus, speaks Greek on the phone with her family on a daily basis. She also knows a couple other languages. But the point is, and I don’t want to undersell this: she’s GREEK. You remember the dad on My Big Fat Greek Wedding and how he could tie every English word back to the Greek? It’s because THEY KNOW ALL THE WORDS. I was playing Boggle against someone who knows ALL THE WORDS.
And then there was my other roommate, who has a weirdly vast knowledge of a lot of different specialized areas: nature, farming, nautical, geology, you name it. So, you know, she could pull out the craziest words, ones I had never even heard of and doubted existed until they pulled out a dictionary and showed me and I lost all my points.
Oh yeah, because don’t forget: I was sitting at that table too. And where the Greek was finding exquisite, long words, and the farmer-sailor-geologist-naturalist was finding exquisite, long words, I was finding these gems:
Pretty much this:
That’s right. I’m the blonde monkey.
After that fateful evening, I never played Boggle again. The sound of dice clattering within plastic casing makes my heart rate speed up and causes shortness of breath. When we decided to bring board games for our wedding reception, and we went through a list of board games friends had to contribute, when Boggle was brought up, I merely yelled that it was forbidden at my wedding and in my life, and that was that.
Recently, a friend noticed that I had Scrabble under my living room chair and asked if I’d like to play a game. I was at a crossroads.
We played the game, and drank tea and ate these lovely blueberry-white chocolate muffins. We listened to seagulls honking from the roof across the way, and generally enjoyed a lovely game. She kicked my butt pretty well, too, but I have grown. I have learned to lose with grace. I have come to know myself – I cannot strategize, and because of this and many other reasons, I will never lead an army or a country or be on a survival-based reality show.
And this is the lesson I leave you with. Know thyself. Forbid the games you must forbid, and learn to lose gracefully. And above all, never ever play Boggle with someone who is Greek. Just don’t.
Oh, and keep these muffins handy.
Blueberry-White Chocolate Muffins
Adapted only slightly from The Joy of Cooking
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
2/3 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
3/4 cup white chocolate morsels
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 12-muffin pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, and vanilla. Once blended, add this to the flour mixture and mix together just until the dry ingredients are moistened. One surefire way to kill your muffins is to overmix; a light touch is required here. Lightly fold in the blueberries and white chocolate morsels.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in one or two of the muffins comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes.
Let cool for a few minutes before removing muffins from pan to a wire cooling rack.
Muffins are best served as soon as possible. Enjoy over a game of your choosing, with a friend and a cup of tea and the honking of seagulls.