I’m not 100% sure when this all started, but somehow I ended up falling in love.
Yes, the relationship can be frustrating and sometimes I feel as if all I’m getting from it are more questions, never answers, but I’ve come to understand it. I’ve come to accept it. And instead of tossing in the towel and screaming “Enough of these mind games!”, I find myself holding on to it in hopes that one day things will be resolved. A lot of times I remember my mistakes from the past and apply what I’ve learned as I’m going along, but sometimes it’s too late to change before it’s written in stone. Then all you’re left with is a mess as you try to correct things. Maybe it would be better to use a pencil. Mistakes are more easily erased that way.
Crossword puzzles are like that, ya know?
In all honesty, I’m addicted to this love affair. It doesn’t help that they are made available to me on a regular basis. A friend of mine at work is my supplier. He receives the local newspaper every day and if he knows I’m working he’ll make sure the take the crosswords section with him. Sometimes he forgets or the section is somehow “missing” (yeah…okay M, I know you’re keeping it all for yourself) and I have some serious withdrawal symptoms. It got me thinking that maybe I should keep a back up book of “Easy Crossword Puzzles” to get me through those rough patches. How did it all come to this? What started out as an “every now and then” leisure activity turned into a full blown dependency!
How The Addiction Starts
The addiction starts with peer pressure. You get thrown into it and you may not even realize you’re partaking in this addictive pastime. Then, before you know it…you’re hooked! All it takes is someone to randomly ask you “What’s a 4 letter word for a ‘Sunblock Additive’?” or even something as harmless as “What’s the name of the actor who played Obi Wan Kenobi?”, because the next words out of your naive little mouth are “Aloe…why?”. And you’re in. You find yourself craving more questions, getting that high when you know the answer for another word for “Junk E-Mail”, and enjoying that feeling of closeness with the person you’re sharing this hit with.
Next thing you know, you’re at your local corner store, buying them yourself. It looks like you’re purchasing today’s paper as if you really care about what’s going on in the world around you, but it’s all a facade. You know you’re actually paying the full price of a newspaper for one page and one page only. The puzzle page. You find yourself blushing with that guilty look on your face before running out and glancing at the Index to see which page it’s on today (will it be A8? B11? In C maybe?!).
After a few weeks of doing it on your own and discovering who you are now that your eyes have been opened to new possibilities, you may find yourself with minor symptoms such as:
- tension in your writing hand
- blank stares of concentration
- sudden outbursts of words like “Aha!”, “Ah!” or “Ohhhhhhh!”
- Slight OCD (example: always using the same colored pen, writing all in capitals, only doing the Across numbers first, etc)
After you’ve been through that phase, you’ll try to get your friends to join you in your addiction. You’ll talk it up, give them a little taste and even encourage them by letting them get the obvious answers. Of course, then they get hooked and you’ll start being the “go-to” guy (or girl). Be warned. They’ll constantly expect you to have some on you at all times. “Oh, Bob’s coming to the party? Great! He’s always got the good stuff.” they’ll say. It’s in these moments you’ll figure out who your true friends are. They’re the ones who’ll sit with you no matter where you are (a quiet pub, a cafe, a park bench, etc) and share in the experience. It’s really a give and take kind of friendship. You’ll pass the puzzle around, each taking a shot at it, have fits of laughter when someone stupidly fills in the answer across instead of down (a straight out rookie mistake). Those are the good times. Keep friends like that.
How You Know You Have A Problem
You’ll know you’re in real deep when you start hiding them around your home. They’ll pop up in between two pages of a book, stashed away in your sock drawer, by your bedside for when you can’t sleep at night, hidden in deep pockets of your bags, and even somewhere in your bathroom! At work, when no one’s looking, you’ll take it out from your desk drawer and bring it with you to your Monday Morning Meeting. When your boss screams out “What the hell are you doing?!?” you’ll desperately try to explain that you’re just holding it for a friend (and discreetly point to the woman sitting across from you). That’s when you know you’ve hit rock bottom. That’ when you know you need help.
You could start off by trying other puzzles. I know, I know! They’re not the same. Sudokus are a little weaker and you don’t get any sort of buzz from doing Word Searches after experiencing the full effect of Crosswords ( I mean, come on. They GIVE you the words to start with for Pete’s sake). But, if you really put your mind to it, it could help ease the way for slowing down your cross-wording habit. Instead of everyday, maybe you’ll only do it every second day. Decreasing your intake slowly may better your chances rather than quitting cold turkey.
I write this post only because I’ve been caught too many times trying to get my fix in any which way could. When it starts to affect the people you love, you have to take a step back and reevaluate your life.
To my friends and family:
If I’ve done you wrong by being distracted by this addiction I must apologize. My intentions were never to hurt anyone, so please don’t be cross with me. Know that I will try to seek some sort of counseling for my behavior. Just so you know, during these sessions, I will most definitely bring up certain family members (who shall remain nameless) for what they exposed me to as a teenager. Shame on you!
To all of you going through the same thing as I am, my words to you are simple:
If you must start using (or keep using) Crosswords as a means of escape, do so in the privacy of your own home. Do not involve young ones, family members, or friends. Not all of them will understand what you’re going through and some may even try to stage some sort of “intervention”. So, for the sake of your loved ones, the solution is simple.
Don’t get caught.
See you tomorrow morning!