I’m puzzled by the studies that show that the way to hang on to the last frayed threads of my mind when they threaten to weave themselves into something resembling the dream sequence on Dallas is to diligently solve the daily crossword. I’ve heard so many stories about synapses saved by a steady diet of crossword puzzles that I’m convinced that the only way to hold on to what’s left of my sanity is to discover the answer to 22 across.
The trouble is that I never finish crossword puzzles. I’m the sort of gal that remembers the name of the person I was supposed to introduce approximately 15 minutes (or six weeks depending on the degree of difficulty) after everyone has left the party anonymously. My guests are known to one another as “that girl in the tacky red dress” or “you know, the man who didn’t shave below his chin,” or “that woman who called me Hortense.” It’s easier for me to fit into last year’s swimsuit than to come up with a word at the right time.
So as I stumble over clue after clue on my daily crossword, I’m troubled by the fact that I’m unable to stave off the inevitable destruction of my little gray cells. Every minute my brow is furrowed, I’m certain that I’m heading downhill faster than a mutt after a meatball, only to find that one night after I’ve peeled open the fast food bags for dinner I remember the four letter word for bacteria. At this rate, I should become senile in another six months. I’d better type faster.
Luckily, there is a new school of thought to bring serenity to the chaos between my ears. Studies show that a simple change in my routine, such as taking a different route home from work, will save more of my mind than puzzles ever did. This is especially good for me because while I’m prone to living in a deeper rut than Hummer tires leave in red mud, it is not at all unusual for me to get lost. On especially good days, it might take three tries to make it to the mailbox. Without too much trouble, I can arrange to find a new way to get to the kitchen every week.
So now I can throw away my GPS, stride confidently from the house, and happily continue to take my wrong turns. And I won’t have to worry about any more cross words.