Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Sorrows of a Scrabbler's Wife

I beg your forgiveness, Herr Goethe, for the shameless mutilation of the title of your masterpiece (although legally speaking, the copyright expired more than a century ago). However, I assure you that what young Werther experienced reaches maybe one tenth of my daily tribulations. Picture the following scene.
The kitchen of a Romanian family living in Japan, one late morning in October. It’s a glorious autumn morning, with mellow golden light flowing gently into our kitchen and bringing in the crisp smell of leaves and the flavour of childhood memories. I’m cooking. I hear Adrian coming down the stairs—he must have thought that it’s dangerous to linger any longer in front of the computer while I’m making lunch. He enters the kitchen carrying his laptop and typing with one hand, so only his excellent reflexes save him from the imminent collision with the table. I’m happy thinking of our small serene family and Adrian smiles too. He settles comfortably into a chair, one leg on another chair (posture that drives me absolutely crazy!) and asks innocently:
“Do you know what word you get if you add an O to CARMEN?”
“No idea.” I don’t even bother considering it. Words are HIS hobby. My words come in sentences, not in lists or letter scrambles.
“Oh, come on! Think about it! CARMEN + O"
All of a sudden, the autumn light seems somehow colder. I’m chopping onions and my grasp on the knife handle tightens.
“I don’t want to think about it!”
CARMEN + O is ROMANCE! Don't you like it?”
I’ve half forgiven him when the next question pops up.
“How about CARMEN + H?”
I’m mashing potatoes now. Does he realize that it’s not such a brilliant idea to mess with someone who’s armed? A grin of satisfaction spreads on his face.
ENCHARM!” he announces. I manage a smile and wonder if he puts this quiz into the “romantic quality time spent with my wife” category. If so, he’s sweet after all… until I hear the next question.
“How about CARMEN + E?”
“I don’t know and don’t want to know!”
Adrian grabs his computer and says making his way out:
“Out! I yell, menacingly waving the potato masher. Adrian’s face appears for a few seconds in one of the glass squares of the door:
I grin back:
CARMEN + T? Hmm… no lunch today, right?”
Although I don’t recommend this activity if you’re trying to organize a romantic encounter with your partner, here are some CARMEN + words. If words were diamonds…

1. CARMEN +E =MENACER (one that menaces)
2. CARMEN+H =ENCHARM (to charm, enchant)
3. CARMEN+H=MARCHEN (a folktale)
4.CARMEN+I =CARMINE (a vivid red colour)
5. CARMEN+O=CREMONA (an early woodwind instrument); also CRUMHORN, CROMORNE, CROMORNA, KRUMHORN
6. CARMEN+O=ROMANCE (to woo)
7. CARMEN+T=CREMANT (of wine, moderately sparkling)
8. CARMEN+W= CREWMAN (one who serves on a ship)


  1. What a CARMEN + RO you are, Adrian, trying to CARMEN + OO your wife and get her to indulge in a bit of CARMEN + AO. But you might have more luck trying to be more of a CARMEN + HO, or treating her to a CARMEN + IU...

  2. David, I don't have the vaguest idea what words you are talking about (I must wait for Adrian to come home and explain), but it definitely sounds interesting. And your comment on the "cheese" convinced me that I must buy the "Book of Cheese" that I saw last year at the airport in Amsterdam. I don't care much for Scrabble, but cheese is a completely different matter.

  3. I "translated" your message for Carmen and she agreed with you, David. Being a CHOREMAN and treating her to a MANICURE is definitely the way to go, she said.