Earlier this week we met some friends at Applebee’s for a late dinner date. Lots of words crossed back and forth across the table as we got caught up on each other’s lives. Then Dave asked, “Do you guys still play that game at the table?” No need to ask “What game?” because we both knew he meant Handful. “Yes!” A red heart-shaped basket filled with Scrabble letters waits for one or both of us to sit down, grab a handful, and start to shift the tiles around to form a grid. The object is to use all the letters by connecting them in words five or more letters long. We keep a Scrabble dictionary handy, its “Q” pages torn from overuse. Sometimes we work together on one grid. It’s a good way to practice our relational skills. Sometimes we get too many vowels or too many consonants and we grumble and mumble until we finally find places for all the tiles. Sometimes one of us takes a break and the other one comes along and finishes the grid. We usually get attached to a particular word, like jeepney, and we will do whatever it takes to shift all the other letters just so we can keep it.
You should try it! We find it interesting to see how other people react to Handful. Some won’t have anything to do with it. Others try it but then “cheat” by throwing back letters they don’t like or can’t find a place for. But we can entertain ourselves for an hour or more at a time (when we have an hour or more at a time) by seeing how many different grids we can make with the same handful but not repeating words. When I fall asleep before Mauri comes to bed, I can see from looking at the kitchen table the next morning what kept him up.