I traveled frequently in the job I held for 20 years starting in 1984, and when I was on planes, in airports, and in hotel rooms, before I carried a computer with me, I usually had several Dell crossword and pencil puzzle game magazines with me, as well as a deck of cards and a book or two. I was actually quite good at crosswords (here I’m talking about American crossword puzzles, not the British ones, which I never quite got the hang of), and could finish one of the puzzles that was in the in-flight magazine in the period of time between boarding the plane and it taking off. In pen. They weren’t all that difficult, so that was probably why.
One time, I was on a plane, working the crossword while waiting to take off, and all of a sudden I was aware that the woman seated beside me was watching me. "Excuse me," she said, "you’re really good at those." I thanked her, but of course I got really uncomfortable, like I was in a fishbowl all of a sudden. I’m not accustomed to being complimented on something I do just to kill time, and I was kind of worried that she was trying to hit on me. That confused me, because I’m built kind of like a bowling ball with legs, not exactly a babe magnet, and although I don’t wear a wedding ring (I outgrew it and had to have my sister-in-law, who’s a jeweler, cut it off before I lost the finger; she made it bigger, but then I outgrew that), most people can tell I’m married. I chatted with her a little bit, then went back to my puzzle. The next time I looked over, she was asleep. Crossword puzzles are not a spectator sport.
My current favorite puzzle is sudoku, which you see above. It’s a 9×9 grid that’s separated into nine 3×3 squares, and the idea is to fill in the blank squares so that every row, column, and 3×3 square has the numbers 1-9 in it. Gives me something to do while I’m lying in bed having the lymph pumped out of my leg…
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