Spencer Sleyon, a 22-year-old Harlem-based rapper and Rosalind Guttman, an 81-year-old grandmother living in Florida, became the best of random pals through Words with Friends and finally meet in real life this past week.
Sleyon, who raps under the name (Half Empty), and Guttman, or (Roz), played over 300 games together on the popular app and forged a close friendship over half a year when their conversations grew from friendly competitive banter to discussions about their personal lives.
“Initially I met her through the option to search for a random game,” Sleyon told the Daily News. “When I first played her, the way it works, it gives you the option to rematch, and when both players do that it starts two games, then we went up to 12 games a day. That’s what kick-started it, that we were playing so much. All our conversations were based in the game, we chatted casually, and then when real life stuff started coming up, we talked about that too.”
Sleyon said early on, Guttman played a word that stood out to him and sparked a conversation that still makes him laugh today.
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“She played the word ‘phat,'” he said, “that sparked a conversation. When she played that I was like, ‘yo, how do you know that?’ — and we laughed, she told me she has grandkids.”
For a few months this year, Seyon deleted the app form his phone when his life became “too busy,” but the mother of a friend of his, Pastor Amy Butler, reconnected them and set up his trip down to Florida to meet Guttman.
“It was dope (when I first met her),” Sleyon said about the first time he and Guttman saw one another. “She got up for a hug and there was no awkwardness. It was more like reconnecting with someone I already knew. It was all normal; there wasn’t anything strange about that visit at all.”
The unique friendship grew over talks about politics, the weather and their daily lives and Guttman became someone who inspired Sleyon to pursue his dreams in life.
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“I was so used to playing with her and talking to her and I knew she was older. I often talk to older people because they’re wise. I asked her like we were friends if she would give me advice about life — she said to go grab it.”
Although the pair discovered over their lunch meeting they didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on politics, their friendship made the get-together a memorable one that shows how a little common ground can forge even the unlikeliest of bonds.
“Despite our different views, our backgrounds, race, gender aside, human to human, there should be nothing against holding you back from making friendships,” he said. “I’ll make friends with anybody.”
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