After taking a year off after college to work and save money, my son is going to leave home again in September, to attend law school at George Washington U. And since September is just an eye-blink away, I'm already waxing nostalgic, so I thought I'd post about his and my favorite (and, if you insist on full disclosure, only) mother/son activity.
You probably think that "puzzling" is an adjective. Wrong. It's a verb, as in, "wanna puzzle?", and its definition is: to do the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle (although usually not on Sunday) in tandem. This may sound simple, but there are rules attached. For example:
- Puzzling must be performed at the kitchen table. I must sit on the left and Nathan on the right, with the magazine section open on the table between us, because we are both right-handed, I am the only one with legible handwriting and, as a consequence, the only permissible writer.
- Puzzling must always begin with the following ritual. Me to Nathan: "Are you ready?" Nathan to me: "I was born ready." A high-five is exchanged. Then we get down to business.
- If we find the major clues - the ones that usually entail terrible puns or other forms of wordplay - to fall below our lofty standards, we will loudly revile the puzzle-maker along gender lines: Nathan takes the lead if it was a woman, I do if it was a man, and if it happens to have been a mixed-doubles team, we're in hog heaven.
- We never, ever cheat. We never, ever quit. We are Righteous Puzzlers, and don't you forget it.
- The truly essential component of our version of puzzling is trash-talk. We are quite the competent puzzling team (I've trained him well), and so our joy does not lie in the actual completion of the puzzle. Rather, it lies in our hurling of kindergarten-level insults at each other. "Fartbutt," for example, crops up more than you might think. When Nathan supplies an answer and I don't fill it in on the grid quickly enough, I am routinely threatened with various creative forms of bodily injury. Likewise, when Nathan leans his elbow on the puzzle or fails to specify the spelling of an answer that has a homonym (do I have to read every clue, for God's sake??), I express my abiding loathing for him and my almost irresistible desire to stab him with the pen, usually somewhere in the facial region. The trash talk is absolutely mandatory; without it, puzzling, as we know it, would cease to exist.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "geeks." You're thinking, "pathetic losers." You're toying with the idea of reporting us to social service agencies. You would rather be dead than have further contact with this blog. But you know what? You'll be back. You're horrified and fascinated in equal measure, and you'll find yourself uncontrollably drawn back to my blog again and again..... doomed, doomed, doomed. Au revoir, for now. mwoohahahahahaha.......