Joanne Palmer: N-o-r-a & M-e


Joanne Palmer

Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at

Find more columns by Palmer here.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Nora Ephron. I think Nora is the best. She is funny. She is a terrific writer. She is fearless because she has been married three times. This is a brave and gutsy thing to do, especially since hubby No. 2 cheated on her while she was pregnant. Nora, being Nora, turned right around and wrote Heartburn, a thinly disguised book about the rogue, and profited from it. I admire that in a woman.

This week, I must confess I am a little annoyed at Nora. This is a first and I'm sure, in time, I will get over it. But, because of her, I have squandered precious hours of my week playing on-line Scrabble. Because of her, I've tripped over piles of dictionaries laying on the floor, I haven't paid my bills and there's nothing to eat for dinner except Ritz Bits and fudgsicles.

Here's what happened. I read an essay she wrote for the New York Times about playing Scrabble Blitz. In it, she described how the game had taken over her life, how she fell asleep memorizing words such as: ka, qi, za, luv and suq. She had Scrabble dreams of tumbling tiles. Nora, Nora, Nora. My poor, little pet.

I love to play Scrabble. But I gave it up years ago because I am terrible at it. I love words. I love to read. I strive to fill every inch of my brain with words so when I sit at the computer to write, there will be inventory in my word bank. However, when it comes to Scrabble, I go blank. I stare at the tiles. I flip the tiles. I rearrange the tiles. Then I get anxious. Then I panic. The only words I can ever think to play are three-letter wonders like cat, rat, hat. That's it. I am the perfect Scrabble partner because you can beat me every time. Despite the easy victory, no one likes to play with me because they can read a chapter in "War and Peace" by the time it takes me to go through my tile-staring-flipping-rearranging-anxiety-panic attack. I had a friend, ok, maybe it was my ex-husband, who once won a game by playing the word "em."



I may have even said those exact words, but did I play them? No. Now, thanks to Nora, I could stage a comeback. I'd be anonymous. I wouldn't have time to stall or be anxious. One game took four minutes. What's four minutes out of a day? I logged right on to My first letters thrilled me: d, g, a, s, i, h, b.


Ta Da!

Four minutes zipped right by and then came the results. I finished second to last. Not bad, there had been 30 players. I'd try again. Next game I moved up a notch. Right in the middle of my 19th game when my son walked in the room.

"Mom I need to talk to you."

"Look in the refrigerator."

"Mom, pay attention. I need a costume to wear to school tomorrow."

"Check the dryer. "

"Mom, listen. I have to be Jim Bridger, an 18th century mountain man."

"Under your bed."

" Mom!" My son stomped out of the room.

The next morning over breakfast, my son stared sullenly at me.

"You look terrible," he said. "How late were you up?"

"U-P. Ah, one more game, then I'll drive you to school."


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