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Thursday, July 08, 2004


Busted in Sarasota

Colonel Mustard
Yes, I was hoist in my own petard ... We almost got away with it again, but Joel and I were busted! More on that later.

Otherwise, our little vacation to Sarasota was a great success. Joel and Roz live in a beautiful area called Lakewood Ranch. a master-planned community in Manatee County. Beautiful homes built around small lakes and golf courses, palm trees, egrets and cranes, and even alligators. What's not to love!

We stayed at the Ehrenpreis' gorgeous new house, an airy, spacious home complete with a media room and a tiled swimming pool with spa. I gotta tell you - waking up every morning to a pool and palm trees is very appealing!

Roz and Joel took us to a fantastic Fourth of July block party a few doors away on Sunday afternoon, where we got to meet a bunch of the neighbors - a very nice crowd. Roz introduced me to her next-door neighbor, Dick Vitale, and his wife Lorraine. Being totally ingnorant of the world of sports, I hadn't known who Dicky V. was until Joel mentioned him to me a few days earlier. Dick was very genial and talked about his children and grandchildren. He and Lorraine were very nice and seem to be the kind of people anyone would love to have as neighbors. Awesome, bay-bee!

OK, back to the bust. As I mentioned in my last post, Joel and I have a long tradition of cheating on the board games that Roz, Sandy, Joel and I like to play whenever we're together. The girls have learned to always suspect us, and we, naturally, always protest that we are shocked, shocked to be accused of winning by anything other than our luck and our wits.

One time, years ago, the four of us were playing Clue. At one point early in the game, Sandy and Roz were so engaged in their conversation that they didn't notice that Joel simply slid the three cards out of the folder at the center of the board, took a quick look, and quickly slid them back in. I saw the whole thing, but kept quiet, stifling a laugh by pressing my palm to my mouth. Then he spent the next few minutes alternately furrowing his brow in concentration and scribbling down little "notes." At about his third or fourth turn, Joel ventured his "guess": "Mrs. Peacock, with the candelabra, in the bedroom." ... or something like that.

When he pulled those three cards out of the little folder, the girls exploded: "What!! That's impossible!!" while I just laughed and said, "That's amazing! How did you do that?"

Anyway, this time, Joel had a new plan. We would encourage the girls to play "a quick game of Password. Meanwhile, Joel had already placed a certain card in one of the two holders for the game, written down the first five "passwords," which he shared with me, put the holder with the card on the top of the stack of cards. After a few days of us whining to the girls about wanting "a quick game of Password, they finally agreed to play after we returned from the July Fourth party.

Joel and I headed back to his house a few minutes ahead of the girls. We went over the words and what clues we would use as we walked, then decided to look up each word online and get synomyms - why not!

We went to Joel's study and I pulled up Merriam-Webster Online and looked up "scallop." Just then, we heard the girls coming in the garage door and I closed the browser.

We all headed for a set of four chairs around a large Ottoman. As usual, it was Joel and me against Roz and Sandy. Joel opened the game box and handed Sandy the pre-positioned holder he had planted earlier while he handed Roz the other holder.

Sandy and I took the first turn at giving clues to our partners. As it turned out, Joel had copied the first password incorrectly as "change," while it was in fact "champ." I wish I had a camera handy to capture the puzzled look he shot me when I gave my first clue as "Rocky," while he had been expecting "coins." But sure enough, Joel did end up correctly guessing "champ" after Sandy and I had each given another clue. Off to a good start.

Now it was Joel and Roz' turn to give clues to Sandy and me. Amazingly, although we didn't know the contents of the second holder, I succeeded in guessing the password.

Each time we got to another of "our" words, I would do one of those Bill-Clinton-deep-in-thought things with my lips and give our pre-arranged clue. Joel would then look appropriately thoughtful, and after a decent interval, would give the right answer. By virtue of good clues on Joel's part ane sheer luck on mine, I also guessed several of Roz and Joel's passwords from the other holder. We racked up dozens and dozens of points, leaving the girls in the dust. We got to the last of the five passwords we had memorized, "scallop," which Joel, naturally enough, "guessed" correctly.

"Somethings going on here!" Roz said again and again. Meanwhile, Joel would say things like "What do you think we did, memorize every word in the game?" while I would smile and look dumb.

Just after the "scallop" round, Roz and Joel drew a word from their holder whose meaning they were't sure of. "Look it up online,..." I said helfully, "... m-w.com [Merriam-Webster Online] is the one I use." Roz and Joel walked over to their study and started to look up the word.

Suddenly, a loud scream from the study! Then, "You guys are so busted!... Sandy, come here quick and see what they did!"

I tried to keep a straight face and feign innocence as I walked over. "What? What's the problem?" I said.

Then I looked at the monitor, and there, attached to the little textbox on Merriam-Webster Online where you type in the word you want to look up, was a little drop-down list, the "AutoFill" list, which held only two words - the one Joel had just typed in, and ....

                  ... scallop

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