Are you getting the hang of social distancing? 

Binge watching TV works as a way of avoiding the killer COVID-19, but perhaps you’d like something  of a more interactive and competitive challenge. I may have the answer. 

For about a year now, I’ve been playing Words with Friends. Oh sure, you could pick a friend you know or a relative, but I’ve come to love the feature that allows for a random friend to be made. 

As a result of the “Match Me” feature within this online game of Scrabble, I’ve made friends with two people from the Philippines, Canada, England, and Sri Lanka. Some games I win, some games I lose, but that’s not what I find so appealing. 

Unlike the old board with a competitor in front of you, the online version allows you to send written messages. Call it a modern day version of a pen pal but much more instant in the response.  

MORE: See all of our Write On, Colorado entries and learn how to submit your own here.

For example, I learned Eddick from the Philippines is 25 years old and works in a bank examining the books, but he never saw snow until I sent pictures and video to him via Messenger. We take snow for granted in Colorado, it’s a part of our life, even after the calendar says it’s spring. 

But if you’re Eddick and you live four hours east of the capital city of Manila with a bumpy bus ride you’d rather not take, seeing a snowstorm is fascinating. Eddick was delighted when I sent a few cell phone pictures to him from Winter Park during ski season and before the coronavirus ended the season prematurely. I also recently sent a 15-second video of a circle of ice that formed in a small fire pit basin in my backyard. “That’s cool”, he told me. 

What he gave to me was knowledge. In his country, people speak a little more than 100 different languages. Tagalog, which I imagine you’ve seen on an official form somewhere like I have, is one of those languages and no, it’s not a Girl Scout cookie. 

We play the game in English, but learning how the Philippines has so many languages, for me, falls into the category of things that make you go, “Hmmm.”    

My next more conversant competitor is originally from Hong Kong.

However, Antonia lives with her husband Dean in the tiny town of Slocan, British Columbia, population 295. She says her Canadian town has more animals than people and when her restaurant isn’t busy, she’s playing “WWF” with me during the day and sometimes into the night. 

What I don’t know is how a woman from Hong Kong met her Dean, but it can’t be the way I met my wife Andrea, at a merry-go-round. The topic of how we met our spouses hasn’t come up yet, perhaps because we’ve been discussing our adult children so much. 

She’s not shy about being proud of her three sons, nor should she. One of them is involved in medical science and working on learning more about cancer, another is a lawyer, and a third is a carpenter. There is no doubt brilliance in her family. Or, as the old saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

She is, by far, my toughest competitor. Her average word score is 30 points per word played. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself some 50, 60 or even 70 points behind before I’ve even played my first word. 

It’s a big challenge to match my average word score of about 20 against Antonia and I know if I don’t hang with her early, I’ll get blown away eventually. As of this writing, she’s beaten me 255 times versus the 17 wins I have against her.  

Antonia also tells me that, with the exception of a woman in Kentucky, I text chat with her the most often — which, in a time where we’re all trying to stay alive by not contracting the coronavirus, presents us with a solution. 

If you’re stuck inside your world, why not go “outside” and play Words with Friends? 

Howard Amonick lives in Centennial.