Today’s Daily Prompt is: What’s the one guilty pleasure you have that’s so good, you no longer feel guilty about it?
It’s hard to pick. I have so many: coffeecake, TV, chocolate, coffeecake, wine, Facebook, and more coffeecake! But the guilty pleasure that I find the most embarrassing is my penchant for crossword puzzles.
When I first started to do the Sunday crosswords in the Chicago Tribune (not even going to attempt the Sunday New York Times crossword), I struggled to finish them. Even for a former English major, they were a challenge. But I soon caught on to the tricks of the trade and became obsessed. Soon just the Sunday crosswords were not enough. I had to try my hand at the daily ones. While traveling, I bought books filled with crossword puzzles, even some challenging ones from the dreaded NY Times.
My family started making fun of me.
“There’s Mom with her crossword puzzle again,” was a typical jibe.
“What do you have on your agenda for today – a few crossword puzzles?” my husband would tease.
Every year at Christmas time, I buy each of my children a Christmas tree ornament. I try to make the ornament apropos of its recipient. My daughter received a chihuahua ornament because of her love for the little dogs. My son got one with a scene from his favorite TV show The Simpsons. You get the idea. One Christmas I found an ornament showing a brown-haired woman in a relaxed pose with a giant crossword puzzle in her lap and a pencil tucked behind her ear. I knew I had to get that one for myself.
There are so many things I love about crossword puzzles. Many of the clues feature clever plays on words. Sometimes there is even a theme to figure out, such as that all the long answers have an added “i” to them. And I now know the names of some obscure rivers in different European countries. I also find it interesting that certain names seem to be popular to puzzle makers, such as Omar Epps and Idi Amin.
Even my family has started embracing this weird, nerdy quirk of mine. My husband saves me all the crosswords from his Wall St. Journal, for instance. Yet despite the fact that my kids approve of my doing crossword puzzles to stave off dementia as I get older, I feel as if I am wasting time. When I complete one, it goes right into the garbage. All I have is the sense of satisfaction in figuring out some particularly hard ones. When I decided to commit myself to my writing, I knew it was time to put some controls on my crossword puzzle fanaticism. So I only treat myself to completing one after a productive day of work. Or on Sunday mornings with my cup of coffee and – you guessed it – a big slice of coffeecake.