I’ve finally discovered the secret to learning new words and keeping my vocabulary at its peak.

Crossword puzzles.

Hear me out. This activity, which I had attributed to hoards of older men and women who use their weekly newspaper for nothing more than bird cage liner and word games, is not as geriatric as it sounds. In fact, millions of young, able-minded people enjoy, and dare I say complete, crossword puzzles every day.

It all started, with me at least, when Kerrie brought home a crossword dictionary from the First Lutheran Church “come buy our used stuff” bazaar. We had struggled through some simple crossword puzzles earlier in the year, and we found that they were too much trouble to be enjoyable at all. Kerrie found this small reference tool and snatched it up at the wonderful price of $0.50

It changed the way we looked at crossword puzzles. Initially, we tried to do the m without any help, getting frustrated after filling out 10% of the words, and quitting to do something more productive and rewarding, like watching Deadwood. We’d cast a wary eye on most crossword puzzles, believing them to be horribly retched little games filled with information that only the most knowledgeable person – someone with too much time on their hands, naturally – would be able to solve.

Now, however, we solve them with ease. If we’re stuck we just check the crossword dictionary. It’s as simple as that.

There are some who may think that it’s not proper to use any sort of outside resources when completing a crossword puzzle. I think this is horribly close-minded. I’m not old enough to know any 70s era television shows, or who played right field for the 1952 Yankees, so naturally I’m at a disadvantage right off the bat. Instead, my crossword puzzles are solved with the aid of a few research tools; I need to know what a certain word might be, so I peruse the internet (for proper names and titles) and the crossword dictionary (a thesaurus, of sorts.)

Because of this I’ve started to enjoy the occasional crossword puzzle, much to the chagrin of Kerrie, who I suspect is a little upset whenever I begin solving words in succession without giving her a chance to even look at the clues. I now take control of the Argus Leader’s classifieds section at least twice a week in an effort to solve the puzzles held within.

Kerrie, in the meantime, has resorted to sudoku.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 17th, 2005