And apparently I've turned into my grandmother. Nothing against my parents, who are great people, but I suppose it's possible that traits like this skip a generation. Yes, my friends, over the past few weeks, I've become inexplicably addicted to crossword puzzles. On the train, at home with a pot of strong coffee, on my union-mandated breaks, it's becoming ridiculous. The odd thing is that it just seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Like a kid who stumbles across his father's pack of Marlboros and becomes a lifelong addict, I hopped on a southbound Blue Line train a few weeks ago and found a discarded Redeye on the seat next to me, and now am bound by a habit I can't seem to shake. If you'd believe it, I'm finishing up today's Tribune puzzle as I type this.
It must be the masochistic side in me yearning for a chance to escape. It's not like I'm great at the things, especially when the obscure clues like "1976 Indy 500 winner" or "Eponymous rink jump" keep popping up and frustrating the heck out of me.
The ones that really get me are the puns. Answers like "SQUIDINKLING" and "WITHALLDUELINGRESPECT" may make me feel better for solving them, but then I have to admit that I have a jokester uncle's sense of humor for even being able to solve these. These clues annoy me the most because they're like those jokes that can run on for ten minutes. I fight to stay awake, thinking all the while, "This punch line had better be good," until I'm eventually playing the role of the boy who never learns his lesson, groaning or ready to punch something, because the punch line (or in this case, the answer) has finally revealed itself and it really wasn't worth the wait.
But they're a good exercise for the brain, help to wake me up in the morning, and I suppose, better than playing Guitar Hero all day. My neighbor caught me on the back porch a few days ago with the Sunday edition and asked if I was staving off Alzheimer's. I guess so. And if I did end up turning into my grandmother, I have to admit, it wouldn't be a bad thing. As always, real life beckons, and I have to go break up a fight between two rambunctious cats. But if someone could just help me out with a four letter word for an expression of disapproval...