Mike had to go out for a few hours with one of his disabled clients, and while his wife worked also, I was left alone in their house to do typing and laundry. In the afternoon Mike drove us
to one of the Scrabble clubs he attended in Indianapolis, 50 miles to the north of Bloomington. En route we toured his town, as he was so proud of it. This was where he went to college and also met his wife, although he was originally from Evansville in the south west corner of the state. The club was held in a room in a leisure centre, attended by about a dozen devotees of the game, all of whom brought sweetmeats, much to my delight and I gorged on them. The usual questions were asked, about where had I started on my trip, where would I finish, where was I from, how many miles did I ride in a day, etc, etc. Anyway, it was a real friendly club, they always played three games simultaneously (which the director paired them up for) and this is about the perfect number for my attention span. I felt a bit sorry for the director, as there was an odd number of attenders and he didn't get a game. My luck with Mike spilled over into this evening and I kept drawing these great, balanced racks. In the first game against Cathy I laid two bingos (LEMONADE & SPARSER) she didn't eke out one and she told me to go home to Scotland. In the next game, with Travis, I had even more good fortune and played two bingos again, the first of which was that old stalwart TRAINERS (an anagram of RETRAINS & STRAINER) but it was my other clearance that got the blood racing. There was an E on the board with a seven letter alley beneath it leading to a triple word. I had DEGNPX? Not the best letters for a bingo I thought – and then I saw it – EXPUNGED (107). Sweet as a nut. Travis nearly came back with two maximums of his own (WREATHES, & IDOLATES which proved to be a phony although I didn't challenge). He had already played other weird ones (TIVY, ORBY & CLAVE) which gave me the idea he knew what he was doing. I played an invalid word also in MUT. Victory was min in this fast, fantastic game, in which we both scored well over 400. In the last game I played someone else who had won their first two games. It had to be Mike of course, the top player there. We had another ding dong of a match, this time with a closed board – until he opened it out with BRAINIER. He was way out in the lead, but on my very last rack I had a chance to bingo out – and win – and I had A blank. I was confident that DILUTEE would be OK. Sadly I was wrong.
On the way back we stopped at the most famous bar in town, Nick's, an 'English pub', where we shared a stromboli pizza sandwich and a few jars – quite literally as it was served in a jar with a screw-top. It was a really convivial place and Mike was great company, particularly as he came across as quite straight-laced, and yet he was a child of the sixties, with a wild side. A non-smoker, he used to be on 60 a day and still drank a fair amount. Once again he refused to let me pay and once again a host had been unbelievably gracious (making me feel like part of the family, letting me stay in his house alone, and plying me with food and drink). In Scrabble the spoils had been evenly divided between us, but in terms of generosity : America 1, Britain 0.
After a day of rest and another good sleep I felt ready to hit the road. Mike had popped out for a McDonald's Special Breakfast and he gave me a route for the day.