Puzzles Often Tease the Inquiring Mind

Life is a puzzlement!

Whether it’s solving a crossword puzzle or searching out a well-hidden word in a jumble, our world can become one big enigma.

The King of Siam pointed that out very diligently when he proclaimed that life indeed was a puzzlement after debating how to tell his son about the maturity process. I loved that Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, especially the puzzlement song. Yul Brenner sings it so emphatically.

A day rarely passes when I’m not called upon to solve the answer to a crossword. It’s not me behind the riddle. My wife starts her day with one. And depending on how she makes out, solving the entire puzzle may set the tone for her day. Mine, too.

A sigh of relief after a second cup of coffee spells “p-l-e-a-s-u-r-e.” She’s really quite good except when it comes to sports. I usually have that page in my hands.

“What’s a three-letter word for a golf ball support?” she may inquire.

“T-e-e. It’s where the ball is placed before you swing at it.”

“One. Two. Three. Absolutely right.”

Sometimes it gets rather dicey and she doesn’t dare test my intelligence. Like the 13-letter word for a 4th-down arrangement. I noticed that she hadn’t completed the answer. Had she known anything about football, she would have answered, “puntformation.”

If I knew anything about Egyptian history, I could have figured out the two-letter word for an Egyptian sun god. “Ra!” It’s the shortest word you’ll ever find in a crossword. I have yet to come across a one-letter word, but someone out there will hold me to it.

I know people whose entire life is a puzzlement. After the proverbial crossword, off they go to Sudoku, then to KenKen. If that doesn’t suffice, they’ll try a hand at Whatzit?, figure out a word jumble, then end their marathon with Search-a-Word.

We have logic puzzles, math puzzles, code words, and cryptograms—a dose of encrypted quotes from across the ages.

For the more challenged, try the paradox puzzles, which seem to contradict reality and send your head spinning as you figure out an answer.

While working at the paper, I recall an instance when there was a mistake in the crossword. True story. People thought it was the end of the world, lighting up the switchboard with complaints and going into a tirade. Had their home been repossessed, it might have been an easier pill.

Today’s jumble may very well have set the tone for my day. CULYK. I took one look at it and out came “l-u-c-k-y.” But don’t ask me the 5-letter word for a Kuwaiti coin. Suppose I could look it up on the internet. Or wait until the next day for the published solution.

People think because I’m a writer, I’m a “word master.” Not so. I have the same difficulty figuring out a word to choose in my stories as you might for a grocery list.

My dictionary and thesaurus are by my side. Outside of the Bible, they’re the two most important books of my life. The pages are falling out from overuse and still I will not replace them. They’ve done me well over these decades and deserve a rightful place on my desk.

But still, they will serve me no purpose if I cannot figure out the proper word at a glance. Because of my verbal ineptitude, I find myself at a clear disadvantage when we sit down to a game of Boggle or Scrabble. Even my grandchildren beat me to the board.

You’re a good puzzle solver if you can get through the Sunday New York Times Crossword in less than a morning’s time. The Sunday Globe Magazine is no pushover, either. I wonder how many spouses or significant others are on stand-by when the solver is stumped.

Could it be the crossword puzzle is usually found on the comics pages because we shouldn’t take them seriously and rather be amused by the task? Take a break. Read a cartoon. Smile. Then get depressed.

I applaud the woman next door. She’ll sit at a table for hours solving a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. There’s a method to her madness. She’ll get the border done first, then fill in the rest. I’m not talking any puzzle here. A lot of it blends into a seamless void.

Don’t get me near a Rubik’s Cube. I tried it once and was handcuffed. The same could be said for all these knot puzzles you find in the notions stores. “I had trouble doing a slip knot as a Scout, never mind untying one.”

The other day, the conversation surrounded a man who was being mean to his wife and kids.

“I can’t figure that guy out,” I grumbled.

“Give him a 4-letter word, starting with J and ending with a K.”

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Puzzles Often Tease the Inquiring Mind

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