I had the opportunity to visit my mother for the holidays for a game of family feud.

I’m not talking about “Family Feud,” hosted by Steve Harvey; I’m not even talking about the actual board game, “Family Feud.”

Our old family feud used to be called “Monopoly.” Now it’s called “Scrabble.”

You see, half of my family cheats at every game they play. That’s right — they cheat at everything. It doesn’t matter what game it is, they cheat. My brother is proud of the fact that he’s a better cheater than anyone. He even brags about cheating at Tic-Tac-Toe and winning.

So, it wasn’t a big surprise to me when he started off the first game with the word “S-H-I-L-L.” Things went downhill quickly from there.

In part, I blame the app Ruzzle as much as I do my cheating family members. It’s a game like Scrabble on the smartphone. The problem with it is that it has every word in the English language and then some on it. The app doesn’t care if you now what the word means, you just have to be able to spell it to get points.

We managed to make it to the second game before the family feud started. My sister started the game by placing “Q-I.”

Well, my mother said, “That’s not a word.”

My sister replied, “It is on Ruzzle.”

After a heated debate we looked it up and it is defined by Merriam-Webster as “vital energy that is held to animate the body internally and is of central importance in some Eastern systems of medical treatment (as acupuncture) and of exercise or self-defense (as tai chi).”

So we let it pass.

My nephew brags that cheating is in his genes because he inherited it from his father (my brother). So, he wasn’t going to let my sister get way with getting 11 easy points. So, he placed another “I” and spelled “Qi” again. My brother couldn’t spell anything, but “Is.” So the board ended up looking like this after three turns



Well, we ended up swapping out tiles each turn until my mother finally unlocked the board by spelling “T-H-I-S.”

During all the swapping, my nephew hoarded up enough tiles to spell a nine-letter word (vampires). Keep in mind, you only get seven tiles in Scrabble. My sister tried to turn “RAIL” into “BRAILS.” Brail is a word she learned from Ruzzel. She thought it was “braille.” There’s a big difference between rope tied to a sail and the written word for the blind. Somebody also played a fifth “S” during the game as well.

But, we had to let it pass because it was in the dictionary. Well, that kept going on. My brother even learned a few words from Ruzzle. But, like my sister, he had no idea what the words meant.

Finally, my sister decided to play “JAG” for a triple word score and 33 points.

I asked her, “What does it mean.”

She replied, “It’s a TV show.”

I told her, “That’s an abbreviation, not a word.”

So, again we looked it up. I knew “jag” meant a sharp point, so I knew I was going to lose those points to Ruzzle again.

Well, my mother had gotten fed up with all the Ruzzle words as well and made up a new rule (we have to do that all the time because there is so much cheating going on).

The new rule was “If you don’t know what the word means, you can’t use it.”

Well, this didn’t sit well with my sister, brother or nephew. So they started arguing about the new rule. Finally, my sister declared since the family couldn’t agree on the rules we’d play Monopoly instead.

So, the three of them went to the back of the house to get Monopoly.

I was dreading that and told my mother I wasn’t going to play Monopoly.

She said, “Don’t worry about it. Nobody’s going to play Monopoly. I threw it away last Christmas.”

Huck Treadwell’s column appears Tuesdays.

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