A 22-year-old man traveled more than a thousand miles to finally meet the elderly woman he became dear friends with while playing a popular app.
Spencer Sleyon matched up with 81-year-old Rosalind “Roz” Guttman on the smartphone game Words With Friends a little over a year ago, and the two have since played more than 324 matches against each other. According to CBS, the two bonded over their shared competitiveness, and they would even send personal messages to each other to critique their word choices. But Sleyon, a 22-year-old from Harlem, New York, soon found himself becoming genuine buds with his Words With Friends adversary.
“One day I searched for a random game, and that’s how I ended up finding her,” Sleyon told The Root. “And we pretty much played every day for five months.”
so last summer i randomly met this 80 y/o woman on words with friends. we played 300+ games together and she actually ended up becoming a good friend of mine. today i got to go to florida and meet her in personpic.twitter.com/VXDbNS4eUo
— High Class Filth (@Filth800) December 1, 2017
When they weren’t talking about the game, Sleyon and Guttman would make small talk about politics and the election, and wish each other a happy holiday when Christmas and Hanukkah came around (Guttman is Jewish). Though Sleyon eventually signed off of the game about a year ago after his life had become “hectic,” she asked Guttman for some life advice, and she simply told him, “always reach for the stars.”
Since then, Sleyon moved from his home in Silver Spring, Maryland, to Harlem, New York, to pursue a music career. He ended up connecting with one of his best friends, and it was a few months ago in that friend’s living room that her mother, Rev. Amy Butler of Riverside Church, heard Sleyon talk about his unique friendship with Guttman.
“One night, a few months ago,” Butler tells The Root, “they started a conversation about who their best friends were, and Spencer said, ‘My best friend is an 80-year-old white woman who lives in a retirement community in Florida,’ and I said, ‘What?’ ”
She’s 86 & lives in a retirement community in Florida. He’s 22 and lives in Harlem. They met online playing #wordswithfriends. Tomorrow they’ll meet in person. I get to be there. #relationshipschangeus pic.twitter.com/xNJjK3ga6H
— Amy Butler (@PastorAmyTRC) December 1, 2017
Butler was so struck by their story that she wanted to do more, so she facilitated a plan to fly Sleyon to Guttman’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, so the two digital friends could meet in IRL. Sleyon touched down in the Sunshine State on the evening of November 30, and spent the next day touring Palm Beach and eating with Guttman at her favorite eatery.
and to clear the air, she was not crushing me boy don’t play with me pic.twitter.com/FcESsdO097
— High Class Filth (@Filth800) December 2, 2017
A tweet posted to Sleyon’s Twitter page on December 1 shows pictures of the two friends smiling and hugging, and it quickly went viral, garnering some 241,000 retweets and more than a million “favorites” in just three days. Many Twitter users replied to the tweet saying they were inspired by the two’s genuine friendship.
How absolutely wonderful. Making new friends is always great. Making friends with people of different age groups teaches us alot. I’m a Grandma & have younger friends.
— susan morrow (@sooze555) December 2, 2017
Awwww. What beautiful souls you both have. How lovely. Thank you for giving me something wonderful to look at on Twitter. Bless.
— Rebecca KH (@__Abracadabra__) December 2, 2017
— brybry (@bryonylouu) December 2, 2017
Even the Words With Friends Twitter account caught word of the story:
— Words With Friends (@WordsWFriends) December 2, 2017
“It was a cool experience,” Sleyon told The Root. “Whatever people want to take from this story and however it makes them feel, I’m just glad Rosalind and I can bring that to people.”