So I watched this woman in the coffee shop where I go to write and knew she was doing exactly what I do with the New York Times puzzle: cheat.
She picked up her iPhone now and then and began to fill in letters. I walked up to her and said,”Excuse me but you’re not allowed to cheat.”
Whew, thank goodness she had a sense of humor. She burst into laughter and said she has just started doing crossword puzzles and needs a lot of help. She wondered why she’s able to do some puzzles so easily and others, not. I explained that these puzzles increase in difficulty beginning on Monday and by Saturday, she’ll need her iPhone. And no, she doesn’t even touch the NY Times puzzle but works on the local one.
I thought of a time when I sat next to a gentleman on the plane. He worked on the New York Times puzzle and my glances told me he was a crossword puzzler. He filled in every letter and left it in the pocket of the seat in front of him. Finally, I leaned over and said, “You’re pretty smart. I can never finish the New York Times puzzle.”
He leaned over and whispered, “ I wanted to impress you so I just filled in letters. It worked.”
On another flight, a few seats away sat a young blond boy, about 10 years old, working on the crossword puzzle in the flight magazine. He turned around to look at me and asked, “Do you know the other name for Tokyo?”
I said, “Edo. E –d-o.”
He smiled and said thank you. Whew, it was a good thing this Japanese knew Edo. The Emperor was pleased.