I love to read, but that doesn’t always equate to knowing how to spell something, or having random tidbits of information floating about in my head. But, for years people always asked me if I did crossword puzzles, figuring anyone who would want to read must surely complete them in pen, in a leather armchair, in front of a roaring fireplace, wearing a silk robe and smoking a pipe. No, I just like to read books, I don’t read clues to answers I’ve never heard of.
But, about a year ago my boyfriend suggested we do one to relieve our fit of boredom, and I was shamed into acknowledging his computer engineering brain was much better suited to remember an okapi is a relative of the giraffe and an epee is a sword used for fighting, than my supposedly word-savvy mind. Even though his skills were far superior to mine, I found it surprisingly fun to try and think of what letters could be placed in those tiny boxes or glowing when I remember the first name of “famous jazz musician”. Plus, after you’ve been doing it for a while, you find that they reuse a lot of the clues. Aloe is surely always mentioned as a healing lotion, and if there is even a remote possibility they are referencing snakes, asps is surely the word they’re searching for. And the clues are more clue-like than just probing you for a term. Sometimes they are puns, sometimes they look for abbreviations and sometimes you don’t realize how clever they are until you luckily find the word that fits the description and have to pretend you understood their wit the whole time.
Now I do crosswords all the time and genuinely enjoy having to figure things out and learn for myself. Even though I do it on the USA Today website which tells you right away if your letter is wrong, I still feel like I’ve accomplished something when I’m finished (unless it’s one of those times where I go through every letter in the alphabet before it tells me I’ve found the right one). It’s just fun to try them out and see if I can improve my time, destress, or feel good about remembering where to use the term iota. Unfortunately, my boyfriend is still much better at them than me, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less.