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Confessions of a Crossword Fiend

Thoughts on why doing crosswords is efficient for the body and soul.
Do I really absolutely need to know the definition of egregious?

Youre probably thinking, oh, oh, not another one of those word nuts. I really do not need to know the definition ait or yurt.

This little essay is about memory, trivia, the odd bit of history and the retention thereof. One viewpoint says if you leave things lying in the closet too long, you will forget they are there. Same thing goes for the garage. Maybe this is okay. Personally I dont think so. Another viewpoint might be that all information is useful in some way. Thats probably too simplistic. I suspect there is truth in both. There are other viewpoints. If you are a writer, you better understand every word you might get your hands on, or into your memory. How much slower writing goes when the sentence that needs a special word goes unwritten because we can not find exactly what is needed.

When I was ten I read so much I worried there wouldnt be room enough in my head and it would explode spattering my surroundings with brains and such in some really disgusting way. I did not know the pluses and minuses of having a vivid visual imagination at the instant. I read more and discovered that it would not explode. I was greatly relieved. It still hasnt exploded many years later.

Another example of the assessment of worth or penalty of reading anything in print came in my twenties when I was working in the Philippine jungle. I happened across a large tome on tropical medicine. I should have used it for a doorstop. Instead I read it. For the next month I manifested twenty or thirty of the most horrible, disfiguring diseases known to medical science. Those diseases fell into the fertile soil of my mind like seeds on the jungle floor. Large, open suppurating sores and testes the size of coconuts played heavily in my waking and sleeping thoughts.

Now I am somewhat older (the actual number is irrelevant). If I fail to remember to call my brother he makes bad jokes about Alzheimers. These jokes notwithstanding, I am convinced that the memory, like the mind itself that is not exercised will atrophy. Crossword puzzles are my way of exercising my memories. This is a garage that I clean and neaten regularly. The other garage I will clean if threatened with a baseball bat across the knees, having to date Hilary Clinton for a week or listen to Rap for two hours uninterrupted.

Metaphysically I think that doing crosswords is like shining a light on the many corners of the mind, and that light, that particular energy is retained by those locations even after you have moved on to other memories. I am the pilot of this odd little boat and when I decide to visit the physical mind I generate energy and that energy enhances a little life to each memory visited. There, that ought to be confusing enough for the average academic. A chemical engineer most definately has a different take on this theory.

Yes, I am addicted. Perhaps I should be standing in front of others who suffer from this terrible malady, admitting to my condition with workable courage, facing up to my problem. I have the crossword monkey firmly astride my pitiful shoulders.

Whew! I feel a lot better about myself. I think Ill go to the second hand bookstore; see if I may find a nice dictionary or four, I only have sixty one.


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