Games · Reflection

For Love Of Crossword Puzzles (Or Anything Can Be A Competition If You Try Hard Enough)

One unintended benefit of my decision to subscribe to a real newspaper is that I now have easy access to a crossword puzzle.

I LOVE crossword puzzles. I used to buy compilations of them at bookstores. My favorite anthology was probably an assortment of all the best Monday puzzles from the New York Times. For those of you who don’t know, Monday is always the easiest day of the week for newspaper puzzles, which meant I could actually finish the whole puzzle occasionally. (Because finishing the puzzle means you “won” and we all know that is very important to me. Everything can be a competition if you try hard enough.)

That being said, it’s been ages since I actually picked up and attempted a crossword puzzle. I’m not sure when I stopped or why, but I completely forgot how much fun they are to do. I also somehow forgot that they are a newspaper thing. My mother did the crossword puzzle from the Boston Globe every morning when I was growing up and somehow it took me until my 3rd week of my own subscription to remember that there was a puzzle in there. I suppose you could rationalize that her unwillingness to occasionally sacrifice the crossword puzzle so her daughter could give it a try was selfish parenting and therefore this momentary lapse is not my fault. Yep, we’ll go with that. (Kidding! My mom’s amazing and don’t you forget it.)

I would like to say that I took this picture at the beginning of the evening but I can't.
I wish I could say that I took this picture at the beginning of the evening but I can’t.

Anyway, so far I’ve spent exactly one evening working on a crossword puzzle. And while it is definitely enjoyable, I’ve discovered a few unexpected nuances of puzzling.

The Negatives
  1. When you only get the paper delivered on Sundays, that means you only get the Sunday puzzle (…duh). You’re probably thinking “wow, this lady is super smart,” but this is important because the Sunday puzzles are the hardest. How am I supposed to win if the puzzle actually challenges me? (It’s like they want me to exercise and expand my mind or something. Ridiculous.)
  2. Crossword puzzles require practice. There’s definitely a mindset that you need to get into in order to understand and interpret the clues. I do not recommend jumping into the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle if you are 5+ years out of practice, unless, of course, you like reminding yourself every once in awhile just how unintelligent you really are.
  3. When you treat everything like a competition (it totally is!), hobbies that otherwise might offer you the chance to leisurely bond with your significant other may instead end with you pouting because Adam figured out more answers than you did.

    Be still, my heart. When they say you should love a man for his mind, this is what it looks like.
    Be still, my heart. When they say you should love a man for his mind, this is what it looks like.
The Positives
  1. If you’re really bad at crossword puzzles then there’s nowhere to go but up! Adam is constantly telling me that he’s not good at “this sort of thing.” And yet he managed to figure out the answer to the hint “A fish who’s name is a celebrity minus an R.” Like…what? I stared at that puzzle for 2 hours and managed to come up with only 15 answers and he just waltzes in and is like, “Oh. That’s opah. Like Oprah, but without the R.” (For those of you playing at home, if you are the person who doesn’t know the answer, that is called losing.) However, he did quickly redeem himself from this highly intellectual moment by following up with this brilliant question: “Which planet is the one that starts with an “O”?” For the record, he was thinking of Saturn.
  2. This is a genuinely fun task to work on together (especially if you win). First, you get to laugh at each other’s brain fart moments (see above). Second, you may learn new things about your partner that somehow didn’t come up in the first 3 and a half years of dating (like how one of you doesn’t know the names of all the planets in the Solar System).
  3. The great thing about being terrible at crosswords is that if your answers never actually cross, you can write in whatever you want and no one will ever know it was wrong (including you)! And if no one can tell that you’re wrong, then obviously you’re right (and winning).

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