Winter is the time when the front of the house brushes off their vocabulary skills and does crossword puzzles between tables. The rule is Dani and I get first go at the crossword. Other servers and cashiers can look and suggest words, but they cannot fill them in unless one of us approves. Cooks don’t even get to touch the puzzle. That way we don’t get ‘pink’ when it should be ‘rosa’. Since we do the puzzle in ink, someone could get stabbed over the wrong word.
Crossword puzzles are addicting. Everybody wants to try the puzzles on Mondays and Tuesdays because those are the easiest. By Wednesday, most everyone has given up. On Friday, only Dani and I are still fighting our way through. Saturday’s puzzles are so hard they make my brain leak and I have to resort to cheating or knifing someone for interrupting me.
While our wallets are empty, our brains are full and we are learning new things. Who knew another word for ‘jalopy’ was ‘crate’? I know I didn’t. Some of the clues and answers make me want to bang my head on the counter because, really, how on earth did the author make that leap? If you do the same puzzles long enough the clues start repeating so you can catch on, but the first time. Holy crap. I want to stick my pen in my eye.
I am sometimes amazed at how dumb my coworkers think I am, though. Years ago when I was working at the Village Inn in Laramie, some woman asked if I knew a 5 letter word for boredom. She was quite smug because she had filled in the puzzle and learned a new word. Without hesitating I answered, “ennui’. Her jaw dropped and she snapped, “Do you know how to spell it?” Certainly: onwee.