For the love of Wordle

Every morning, there is a moment when I realize that’s it for sleep and I roll over and grab my phone. The new Wordle board opens and hope springs anew for that bull’s eye, hole in one, first try guess. I mean, it can’t be that difficult. How many five letter words can there be in the English language? 

As a logical person, I believe I have an edge in this game. As the letters become grayed out, logic intervenes. I am a whiz at analogies, earning me Mensa eligibility due to my high Miller Analogies score. Trust me, I’m no genius but I like games that require brain power, and for that reason, my son, Scott, pushed me into the world of Wordle. (He was also the person who alerted me to being “Mensa eligible.” I laughed in his face at the possibility.)

The text arrived back in early February. “Ma, have you tried Wordle yet? I think you’ll like it.” 

Scott and I have similar brains, quirks, and interests, which gives him insight into my basic likes and dislikes. I thought I meant it when I said, “Scott, I’m not getting involved in another game.”  

I’m already a slave to Words with Friends and Candy Crush Saga. My stats for those apps appall me. No human being should play enough words that they stretch 3 miles or 2,491 rounds of anything involving pretend candy. But I had no one to play Yahtzee or Boggle with. When Scott defected to Texas, my choices for playmates whittled down to my grandchildren and endless rounds of Go Fish and Old Maid using my original cartoony card decks from 1964. It’s bad enough I live next door to where I grew up but still using my nearly sixty-year-old toys? Talk about getting stuck!

I opened the Wordle app, just to see what all these posted Facebook scores were all about. I read the instructions and went at it. In four tries, I discerned the word of the day. I hit the share button and Scott’s name appeared at the top of my texting list. Adding the comment “Is this good?” I hit “SEND.” A few minutes later, Scott responded. “Well, you won but you really want to get three or less.” My golden bubble of success popped immediately. He has a knack for that. When your kid is so much like you, they know how to cut you to the quick. It’s a hazard of motherhood I tolerate for the sake of civilized communication.

The next morning, I opened the app and typed in “PARTY.” Three letters, one in the correct position, appeared. In three tries, all of the letters turned green. I shared the score. The kid’s response: “Good for you! It took me four today.” Vindicated, I played the next day and the next. Now on my fiftieth game, the preponderance of my scores hovers in the three-four word range, and I am proud to declare I have never lost yet. (I just knocked on wood. That was a jinx if I ever heard one.)

Wordle is a frustrating, intriguing, and challenging daily distraction. A salve for the soul weary from world events, it delays the inevitable dive into the Twitter rabbit hole for a few more minutes. It jars my brain into thinking mode. But what I love best about Wordle stems from its purpose as a conversation starter. From eighteen hundred miles away, my kid and I communicate, first about the scores of the day, and then about a million other things. I miss having him nearby but I appreciate Wordle for its contribution to family relations in a natural, unforced means of conveying news and affection.

Last week, he followed up his Wordle score text with  “Have you tried Quordle?” I shut him down immediately. “What the hell is that? No! I’m not getting involved in anything else!” I impressed myself with my forceful, adamant response. I’m sure he could hear my voice across the miles and he probably laughed. He knew it was a matter of time.

Yesterday, as I sat on the sofa with my nine-year-old grandson, Declan, we punched in letters and watched as they illuminated the Quordle screen. It was only a practice game but we shared the score with Uncle Scott. 

“Hey, it’s Dec, on Mami’s phone! Check this out!” 

“Well done, buddy!” 

I imagined Scott’s satisfaction, especially since he knew I was behind the Quordle success. With Dec as a decoy, I shamelessly demonstrated my lack of self-control when it comes to internet games and my commitment to the indoctrination of the next generation of people who play games, online and otherwise. 

I know the Wordle haters dread the daily Facebook scores friends share but the Italian mother in me appreciates Wordle for the unspoken service it performs keeping me in touch with my adult son, halfway across the country. It masks my cloying motherliness as it encourages our playful commentary and harmless competition. 

But I swear, that’s it. No more games. For now, at least.

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