No Longer at Ease:Crossword puzzles a new-found affection

I'm special. Possibly even touched in the head, I am fully aware of this fact, yet sometimes I surprise even myself with my aptitude for finding joy in the littlest of things. The source of my latest amusement? The crossword puzzle of our own DAILY NEWS.

Mind you I am nearly a super-senior -- an almost super-senior who has (since regular Chicago public transportation rides) read the paper. So why have I never noticed the crossword puzzles? I mean I know they've been in there, I've seen them before. But somehow I remained immune to the draw of those irregularly checkered squares.

That is until last week.

I'm not sure what did it. Maybe the realization that I'm next out of my friends venturing into the working world. And knowing that a good number of them are either unemployed or longing for a return to the carefree days of class and semi-sustenance in the Atrium, I thought maybe a puzzle would provide ample distraction to those career center brochures.

Well, whatever the reason, I folded over that first page of the paper and promptly became frustrated. I remember crossword puzzles. I used to do them religiously while I was being taught religion.

Every Sunday on the way to church, or (shhh) in church (gasp!), I would work at them. Those were easy. I figured I would pick up the DAILY NEWS puzzle and solve it easily.

But alas, my skill at these dastardly puzzles has eroded like my sterling church attendance record. The first two days I worked at those things like a madman. I think I got 10 clues correct. Seriously, who makes these things up anyway?

The following days I would check the paper for the answers to the remaining 5,284 clues I missed. What would I find? The correct answers to the wrong day's puzzle.

Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.

Each day following the misprint I was more determined to defeat the evil DAILY NEWS crossword while naysayers taunted me:

"If you cant do the Muncie crossword how can you do the NY Times when you move?"

"What do you mean, what is a three-letter volcano in Kyushu?"

Did I defeat the puzzle? Vanquish the hated crossword? No. It's the weekend and Friday's puzzle is taunting me as I angrily bloody my fingers on the keyboard. I refuse to give up. Even as I look down and try to remember what in heaven's name Evan Esar said, I wonder if the audible clicking is the keyboard or my fingertips shattering. I don't remember puzzles being like this on those Sunday's long ago.

The start of a quip? Which quip? How can I tell how many words are in the answer when the answer is more than three lines long. Damn you DAILY NEWS crossword puzzle!

I hate you because I love you.

Yes, I realize I may be a little emotional over this whole puzzle thing. I'm the special Barney used to sing about, I can't help it. How many times have you found a new source of joy when it's been right under you nose? Hopefully by my print day, I'll have won one. Won? Is that correct terminology for solving a crossword puzzle?

I'm so special. My head hurts.

Write to Aric at


More from The Daily

Loading Recent Classifieds...