I'm a crossword puzzle junkie, descended from a long line of family members with the same addiction. My parents would spend Sunday mornings, doing ones in various newspapers and my dad bought me my first crossword puzzle book when I was in the first grade.
Recently, some buddies and I decided to take a trip to Miami, Florida. Our intentions were to get some sun and hopefully attract the attention of beautiful women lying on the beach. As we boarded the plane, some of my companions had bought their laptops, while others had bought music to listen to. I was armed with a bunch of crossword puzzle books. As we settled into our seats, one of my friends started looking decidedly nervous. I asked him what was wrong and he confessed that he had a fear of flying. Naturally some of our friends suggested drinking heavily. I told him that this was a bad idea, since a nervous attitude can equal a nervous stomach. The last thing he needed to worsen the situation was lots of alcohol.
To take his mind off of worrying, I handed him one of my crossword puzzle books. Our buddies sitting across from us laughed at that idea, but I told them that the only reason they were chuckling is because they lacked the vocabulary to do them. I then issued a challenge that I would give $20 to whoever could complete the most crossword puzzles by the time we landed. I also included the requirement that they had to pay for all of my drinks, if I was the winner. Few men can resist a challenge and since I didn't have enough books to hand out, I divided them in half and gave one to each of my friends.
We all began working on our crossword puzzles and my friends began asking each other for advice on word choices. I started to protest, but decided that since they were beginners, I would let it slide. By the time we landed, they were still desperately scrawling out their answers.
We got out of the plane and went to retrieve our bags. Two of my friends kept working on the puzzles while they were walking. I had completed my half and used the time to take in the surroundings and admire the ladies who had dressed for warm weather. I was asked to extend the contest to the end of the trip to the hotel. I agreed and we piled into the shuttle. They kept working while I took in the palm trees and colorful buildings. When we reached the hotel, I was surprised at how many puzzles they had completed. Still, I was the winner and would now be able to spend my money on souvenirs instead of the drinks they were forced to pay for.
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Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Florida. Find more about this as well as puzzle gifts at www.puzzleandgamegifts.com
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