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Rated: ASR · Monologue · Family · #341933
9 Letter Word For Brain Teaser
         Six letters, "Bicycle built for two." I used to know all that stuff. There were the 'Norse sea gods' and 'the tree that spreads laterally' but they are gone from my memory now. If I was Howard, my father-in-law, I would take out my handy-dandy Crossword Puzzle dictionary and look them up, but in my father’s house help was limited to a thesaurus.

         I can't remember if I ever saw Dad take out Roget. He liked to do things himself, and in his way. He probably would have looked down his nose if he saw Howard grab the cheater. He did the puzzle in the local paper every day. Sometimes on Sundays, when someone would bring home the Sunday New York Times, he would establish squatter's rights over that Everest of puzzles that appeared in the Sunday Magazine.

         I have this picture of him working in ink, sitting at the kitchen table at lunch or late in the evening with his crackers, cheese and two bottles of beer. There is nothing in my mind's scrapbook showing him checking the solution the next day, or the next week. Maybe he did; I was not writing his memoirs and did not follow him around every minute. I only know he did things with a certitude that made solutions unnecessary.

         He was never one to encourage his children to take up his interests, but he seemed pleased when they did. My brother followed him into carpentry while I took up puzzles for a time. I would pick up a paper on the newsstand and that night each of us would be doing the same grid. I was permitted to ask him questions, but like him I preferred to do things my own way, which to me was working in ink. Unlike Dad, I would leave the puzzle unfinished when stumped. Sometimes he would later pick up my pallet and give me the answers, but I was never one to thank him.

         The daily puzzles were fairly simple until the local rag brought in a modernist. This man seemed to be into pattern deconstruction, but he was all the rage among the young, trendy aficionados that the paper was trying to lure to jack up their ratings in the great game of distribution. Despite the new-fangled efforts of this puzzle setting fiend, my father kept filling in the blocks but by that time, neither he nor I had any idea if his answers were correct. He was too old to know and I no longer lived there. At that point in his life his simple printing had degenerated into scrimshaw, while his mind allowed him to write checks on accounts that held no money.

         By then I'd been out of the puzzle business for some time, my efforts limited to inspecting the uncompleted works of Howard when we visited his house. I would pencil in corrections and answers. He never thanked me. More than likely he erased my efforts before going on. Betty, my mother-in-law, preferred the more complicated 'Acrostics' in the Sunday Times and always had a parcel of questions ready for me. Despite her encouragement, I could never develop a fondness for these intellectual exercises.

         Occasionally I would try my hand at the Sunday Times puzzle when it would be reprinted in my local paper. These across and downs were always 'themed'. A quote would be threaded through them, the parts running the breadth and length of the grid. My pleasure wasn't completing the puzzle but rather playing "Wheel of Fortune" with the quote, and, I'll have you know I tried to solve it alone without Vanna turning over the letters.

         "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," would be rather simplistic to set, so the maker might cross up the solver by running it from right to left or bottom to top. Some crafters would give fair warning, but the more diabolical ones would simply assume the doer knew that a puzzle appearing on April Fool's Day would be outside the lines of normalcy. I assumed nothing and retired from the puzzle game undefeated in my eyes. My father died and crossword puzzles were forgotten.

         "My father and I would go and play Bingo.” Friend Pam’s mention of this other game that is set on a grid brought back the picture of my sister solving a crossword puzzle on her visit here. How bingo relates to crossword puzzles, I do not know, but I have come to expect such non-sequiturs to pop out of the labyrinth above my eyes. When I saw the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Edition puzzle on the back of a page I had folded this morning, the floodgates were opened.

         I looked at the clues and recognized a few easy answers. “Laver” is still the winner of four U.S. Open titles and if ‘Amin’ is the deposer of ‘Obote’, that would make ‘manner of speaking’ in five letters ending in ‘m’ what? It was unclear, but if I knew the musical that featured ‘Another Pyramid,’ I might be able to get it. Did they make a musical of ‘Aida?’ I was forced to realize I had not been keeping up with the icons of pop culture that were sprinkled all over the playing field. It took some time to get it through my brain that “The Man Who Wasn’t There” had nothing to do with Hitchcock. Who was “The Matrix?” I thought of calling Pam, a movie buff, but could not bring myself to confess I might be getting back to the ‘same old used to be’, as the song went.

         I did not pick up a pen. I made no mark on the puzzle. I finished reading the newspaper and was going to toss it into the recycling box, but thought better of it. Folding it back so that the puzzle sat exposed to view, I left it on the end table by the couch. My sister is not due here this year, but could it be possible that the spirit world will sweep it up and take it to my father? He must be getting pretty bored where he is.

         As for me, I am still undefeated at puzzle solving in my mind and want to remain that way. Therefore, I shall call Pam and see if she’ll take me along to play Bingo.

© Copyright 2002 David J IS Death & Taxes (dlsheepdog at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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