I could write more about the tax deal, but you’re probably tired of hearing about it, and, to be honest, I’ve been too busy playing iPad Scrabble.

Too busy losing, actually.

It’s lucky I never started smoking, because I’m the kind of easily addicted, chronically obsessive person who would have found it impossible to quit. I’ve gone through these phases before — Minesweeper on the office computer, Super Mario Brothers on the kids’ Gameboy. Since I got the iPad a few weeks ago, I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time for a grown woman — actually, a ridiculous amount of time for even a teenaged boy — cyber-flicking a crumpled up piece of paper into a virtual wastebasket. Gotta beat that 23 in a row.

And it’s not just electronics: I’m the person who has to be pried away, bleary-eyed, from the card table trying to fit in one last jigsaw piece. And to the sadistic friends who just gave me the 1,000-piece puzzle showing a photo of hundreds of pencils? Just because I had to give up on finishing “cute kittens on a quilt” last New Year’s weekend doesn’t mean I won’t get this one done.

But iPad Scrabble is different. This is my first virtual game relationship.

I have a Scrabble past, of course. My husband likes to tell the story of how I gently warned him, before our first time, about my prowess with a rack of tiles. He proceeded to win — by a lot, and repeatedly, before I caught on to his diabolical ways. Ai? Jo? Qi? For years, he had me convinced that gi was a Chinese unit of measure and therefore acceptable. (It isn’t.) This is not a man you want to let anywhere near a triple-word score.

But he’s no match for my iPad. It is wicked smart. Of course, I made it that way — literally, you can choose your setting: easy, normal, hard. It knows words I’ve never heard of: Splake! Herry! Zax! (And that was just the game I played in the middle of writing this.) It is the king of seven-, even eight-letter words. Soilure! Etiolate! Otarine!

At the same time, it acts like the consummate gentleman. Unlike certain people, it never makes you wait while it fiddles with the tiles. Or starts to sigh ostentatiously if you happen to be taking a while.

The iPad always lets you go first. If you put down a dubious word and it isn’t in the dictionary, it gives you another chance instead of being a stickler for the rules and making you forfeit your turn.

And if you are really stuck, it will let you cheat — I mean, graciously give you a hint. Just tap on that alluring little best word icon, with the glowing red heart. You might feel a bit cheap about yourself, but it’ll never tell. Calorize, 122 points. Who could resist?

Not me.

Not the iPad either. It turned it into calorized.

Ruth Marcus’ e-mail address is marcusr(at symbol)washpost.com.

© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group

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