In Which I Wage War Against Strangers

I like crossword puzzles.

I never even thought about crossword puzzles until my late 20s, but since then, I’ve always had little crossword puzzle books scattered all over my house. Until, that is, I got my iPhone and found the Crosswords app.

At $9.99, it is the most expensive app I have ever purchased, but I have probably logged more hours on it than on any other app on my phone—and that includes the actual phone call capability. Every day, about five to eight new puzzles are downloaded to my phone, giving me ample choices of puzzles to work on. The best ones arrive on Fridays and Sundays. Also Monday, because those are the easiest and I am lazy.

I am terrible at crossword puzzles. I’m getting better, but in the list of Top Solvers that my app shows me after I solve a puzzle, I am almost always near (at) the bottom.

You’ll note that I had to get hints to score that awesome time.

That’s me there, finishing a mere 6 minutes and 39 seconds after BarkingSlug. Awesome. My worth is nothing.

For the past several months, I have been chasing the times of a player known as momof5gr8kids. She almost always does the puzzles before I do and she always does them faster than me.

I hate momof5gr8kids with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns.

I spent some time wondering if her 5gr8kids were sad and neglected until I realized that not only was I spending MORE time doing crosswords than her (see: she always does them faster than me), but I was whiling away a substantial amount of time hating her.

She disappeared for a couple of months at some point and I started to worry about her. I wondered if one of her gr8 kids did something terrible. I wondered if she would come back as momof4gr8kidsandaloser or maybe even momof6gr8kids. She probably just started doing her crosswords later in the day than I did, so her times weren’t up when I showed up.

I have spent FAR too much time thinking about her.

In her absence, I started chasing Dr. Beer, because, well, his name is Dr. Beer. If I could beat anyone, it should be Dr. Beer, right? (Said the lady who is dumber than BarkingSlug.) Well, that Ph.D. in beerology evidently included a minor in trivia, because that guy kicks my ass daily.

Once momof5gr8kids came back, I started competing with both of them. I like Dr. Beer a little bit better because occasionally I can beat him (or her). I never beat that bitch momof5gr8kids though.

This next screenshot shows that I was at least in range of Dr. Beer on this one.

But almost a minute behind Steimy the Imposter.

But then, shortly before Christmas, this happened:

Aw, yeah, baby.

I didn’t just beat momof5gr8kids, I fucking slaughtered her. AND I beat Dr. Beer too—by less than a six-pack. AND I came in first place of all the crossword puzzle nerds that played the puzzle before I did.

It’s like winning the Nerd Medal in the Nerd Olympics played on the NerdPhone.

Now, before any of you start suggesting that I play against you in Words with Friends or one of those other brainy/nerdy games, just know that I can’t, for two reasons:

1. I would lose (and how!) and that would make me sad and embarrassed, and

2. I’d have to be all, “Congratulations! You won again, you ol’ so-and-so!” when really what I would mean is, “I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaate you.”

So, is it just me, or do any of you maniacally compete against strangers who don’t know you exist?

(Oh, Christ, it’s just me, isn’t it?)

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