I've never done a crossword in my life. Like Sudoku, I hated the idea of working on something that yields nothing in return when I'm finished.
Yes, my vocabulary might improve, and I'll exercise my brain a bit, but I could just read a book instead and get all that a story or nonfiction title has to offer in addition to those vocabulary and brain benefits.
But Elysha introduced me to the New York Times crossword app, which has short, daily crosswords that are timed.
Timed means that not only is accuracy under scrutiny but also speed.
Timed means completing one can be turned into a competition.
I like competition. I like competition against myself, and I like to compete against others, including Elysha. I also like the fact that Elysha is indisputably better at completing crossword puzzles than me. Her times are often half of my own, and I have yet to beat her.
Recently, she asked how long the latest crossword took me to complete, and when I said, "Almost four minutes," she responded with the sweetest, "Oh..." possible.
I like this. I love to chase a frontrunner.
So for the past month, I've been doing the daily New York Times daily mini crosswords. The first crosswords of my life. It always takes less than five minutes, and I've admittedly learned some new words along the way.
It's also been fun, and I'm improving. This morning I completed the puzzle in 1:01.
I have yet to crack one minute, which Elysha cracks almost daily.
But I have a complaint. As a newcomer to this world of crossword puzzles, one aspect of these puzzles is complete and utter nonsense:
The two word answer.
Like today, for example. The clue was "On the ocean." The answer was "At sea."
This is nonsense. Balderdash. Hooey. Poppycock. Malarkey.
I understand that the two word answer might seem normal if you've lived with crosswords for a long time, but as one who just arrived in this new world and has an unvarnished, objective view of the landscape, I'm here to report that two word answers are lazy, sad, shortcuts to real clues.
This is a crossword puzzle. Not a crosswords puzzle. One word crosses another.
Every time a crossword creator writes a two word clue, an angel's wings fall off and the once- righteous being plummets to the depths of hell.
Two word answers are the worst.
And this is not sour grapes. I've gradually grown accustomed to the stupidity of the two word answer in the same way I had grown accustomed to the stupidity of the Electoral College and laugh tracks. Two word answers are not delaying my crossword completion.
They are just tearing at the fabric of my soul.