“Ajou” is not a word.

Well, not in English, anyway. (And the existence of an Ajou University somewhere in Korea doesn’t change that fact.)

Glop, however, IS a word. A legitimate word. In English. (It’s “a sticky and amorphous substance, typically unpleasant. A glop of grape jelly stained the toddler’s shirt.”)

Last Wednesday, a well-placed “glop” landed me 24 points, but was indeed unpleasant for certain others, particularly the one who was still advocating for ajou’s place in the English language.

The above “discussions,” debates and disparaging comments weren’t part of some high-minded, intellectual discussion of linguistics and evolving vocabulary. Not even close.

Not at all. Rather, this is what happens when a sweet, well-meaning colleague hangs a magnetic Scrabble board in a newspaper and media office. Things deteriorate quickly among coworkers who are also friends. 

Our office Scrabble board is an ingenious version of the classic crossword game: a dry erase scoreboard, magnets on the backs of the letter tiles and slim metal bookmark-type placards. Players write their name on the front of said placard (DON’T use a Sharpie) and affix seven magnetic letters to its underside, concealing them from other players when the name placards hang from the bottom of the board.

Its design is impressively clever and allows for a stop-start game to accommodate actual work obligations. (A simple dry erase dot on the scoreboard denotes whose turn is next.)

Before the first two words had intersected on the board, we were debating nuances and consulting the official Scrabble rules.

In our typical, cynical fashion, we immediately recognized the potential for cheating if players choose their replacement letters immediately after their turn.

“Wait, so she just picked her letters then heads to her office — and her COMPUTER? To look up words with those letters. I’m calling bulls–t on that.”

So we immediately ruled that no one can pick their next set of letters until right before their next turn.

Mind you, these people are all friends. Not just coworkers, but friends. We choose to hang out with each other outside of work. We text each other on weekends. We have inside jokes that would never pass muster with any human resources director.

But give us seven letters and an accessible triple-word score and we devolve into “Lord of the Flies.”

One of us is taking too long to decide on his word. Another picked her next letters before her next turn. Still another (me) misquoted a rule about blank tiles.

We’re innately competitive and cynical. Scrabble among word people is like Monopoly among Realtors.

The final score of our first game was: MM:160; SM:129; AB:125; BM:101. But really, who’s counting?

Oh, please. We’re ALL counting. And plotting. Competing. Strategizing. Willing the next player not to use the triple-word square we’ve been eyeing since we pulled an X from the bag.

Our generation didn’t get participation trophies for mediocrity — and we don’t get creativity credit for making up words like “ajou.”

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.