Real Women Solve Crosswords With Pens

It was my junior year at BYU and UTA had decided to test out a program with the student body: give us free bus passes and see if we liked it. By my first senior year, the student body had voted in favor of increasing the cost of parking passes in order to pay UTA to continue the bus passes, now no longer free. So I skipped buying a parking pass and rode the bus every day. One time, I even got on the 8 a.m. bus (probably because I didn’t sleep that night, not because I actually got up in the morning) and it was jam packed. The bus driver suggested that people sit laps so we could still get everyone on that was waiting at the next stop. Somehow, they all got on and the bus didn’t tip over when we turned left and up the hill to campus.

When I caught the bus home, it wasn’t nearly as crowded, but there were still students in most seats. I climbed on one day, sat down near the back, and continued staring at the crossword puzzle from the school paper. It was a NYTimes puzzle and it was midweek, so the clues were getting harder. I had been staring at one of the longer answers, a play on words, for the last 5 minutes at least when it hit me, somewhere around Bulldog Boulevard. I figured out the answer and I cheered. Audibly. People on the bus turned and stared at me and I held up my crossword smiling.

“Got one of the tough clues.”

They went back to staring out the windows.

I went back to my crossword.

I used to meet up with Steve and Chris in the student center around lunchtime to work on the daily crossword puzzle. We’d make it a contest, after we’d found a random friend (it changed each time) to make it a foursome, we’d have each couple race to finish first.

We always used pens.

I saved those completed crosswords for a while, bits of newspaper scattered around my bedroom. I thought that my roommates should be proud of me for the times I finished the Friday crossword, but they just shrugged their shoulders and went back to listening to country music. Thankfully, they used headphones for that.

This morning, after arriving at work and enjoying the nice walk in from the parking lot (hooray for March coming in like a lamb!), I picked up the Utah Chronicle from the table inside the door. I scanned a few of the articles, but never really read them. I opened to page two, folded the newspaper in half, in half again, and did it once more; I only really wanted to see the crossword.

And now I have something to do in between pulling up reports and going through emails today. Here’s an easy clue from the Monday puzzle: “Swedish retail giant.” Four letters. Bet I didn’t need to tell you how many letters you needed, though, right?

I wrote the answer in pen.

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