Words. There are worse things to be addicted to. I am a reader and a writer. I love words. But I had always had a mild disdain for word games. Until recently.
My parents had great fun and occasional conflict doing crossword puzzles. Mostly, it was a healthy competition that started in the morning and sometimes lasted until the evening when one would triumphantly call out, “I got it.” I didn’t get it. The clues were often ridiculous, contrived. “Ooh, spill the tea,” is a clue from this morning’s New York Times puzzle. Seriously?
That had been my conclusion. Word games and puzzles did not treat words seriously with the respect due them. Then, when my insomnia worsened after a certain election, I began playing with the mini puzzle in the middle of the night, thinking it would make me sleepy. In no time I became hooked and moved on to bigger puzzles, careful not to take them too seriously.
When I recently began dealing with my husband’s sudden illness, the mini crossword no longer put me back to sleep in the middle of the night. I watched the cute cartoon of tiny bee next to the crossword beckon me. I’d listened to the twitter talk about “The Bee.” How difficult it was that day or outrage that a particular word was not allowed. Many of the tweets were from writers I admire. I wondered how they had succumbed to the temptation of the Bee.
Until one night when sleep seemed impossible. I opened the seven-letter temptress and began assembling words, learning quickly that the central letter is essential to your word being allowed. I was surprised at the immediate feedback. “Good” appeared on my screen when I entered a word. There were rungs on a ladder I began to climb. Solid. Good. Amazing. When I began to hit Genius, I became obnoxious. I greeted my husband each morning with the news that he was married to a person who had achieved genius before her feet hit the floor.
I was on fire. Words were no longer just a writer’s tool. They were fun. Oh, the rules and words disallowed could be ridiculous. As a member of the medical and legal professions, I have screamed at the screen for disallowing certain terms, but I got over it as do the twitters I have now joined. Pooh but not fecal? Everyday words can be equally vexatious. PORTAPOTTY! Come on Bee, get with it.
Over the weekend, I reached my first QUEEN BEE, meaning I got all of the words, including the essential pangram. Someone congratulated me on Twitter but warned I would never be satisfied by achieving genius again. I don’t know about that, but I do know I have reached a new level of obnoxious and that I am having fun,