well it looks like my time has come, tuesday june 13, 2006 aproximately 6:45pm, the day i completed my first Metro crossword.
it was yesterday's edition, a monday's--frosh print, but i hadn't any luck in months, mondays, fridays, or any of those tease bunnies anywhere in between.
you know the way it works--or at least i do, after being hooked in many months ago. upon waking up there's one thing you don't want to do: go to work. upon waking up there's two things that you DO want to do: 1) drain the snake; and b) hit up the Green Box to get the jawn. taking a leak allows you to go to work; penning the Metro allows you to put it out of your mind.
it's a rush seeing a stack of those free papers stacked like crepes one on top of the other, with a frontpage centerfold pinned up inside the front box window. the past couple weeks some motherfucker has been guttin The Box. ain't nothin' more heart droppin than an empty pack, an empty bag...an empty box. a woman on my block walking a wolf says 'i think somebody's been coming by and takin em in the morning. what the hell for i don't know.'
'fuck,' i mutter under my breath. i tell her we should set up surveliance cameras on the corner by the station; i'd really love to shoot from a tree at the motherfuckers feet when he tries to grab community junk to use as training paper for his new puch, make him dance, run and drive away in his white van and not come back.
the lady offers me her paper, 'i'm done with it,' she says and i say the one-time-standard 'no i couldn't,' then 'i'm done with it,' so 'well okay sure thanks thats awesome.' she had a raspy voice and i knew she got high on the same fucking crossword that i do every morning.
the crossword would never work on the computer, the internet, and it would never work if it wasn't free. it's the difference between copping junk on the street and time stamping at the methadone clinic: the feel of low grade gray pulp; the ink left on your thumbs and fingers; folding, unfolding, refolding, stuffing, rolling, marking, tagging, scouring, turning, scanning. it unites the bums using it for a blanket and the pinsuit checking his watch off the train.
but the Metro is just the peel of the banana, and I am a hungry motherfucking ape.
i'm also determined. after almost three months i haven't completed a single crossword in its entirety. no consummation, just frustration. and when i get frustrated i lay it aside for another time that never comes. half finished bottles of beer, half-started relationships, paving roads for a living with good intentions...
here's how it goes. when i roll out in the morning and hit the box its not really a H rush--it's the pleasant and reassuring coffee and camel nicotine rush. there's nothing like the first sip of coffee; nothing like the first drag of a cigarette fingered, smoke inhaled. and there's nothing like a blank white slate snow virgin crossword field staring you in the face.
i tear into it with abandon, jumping from ups to downs, three-letter shorties to 10 space stretchers. i eat like a hillybilly at a buffet, bang out words on freshman additions with fratboy confidence. my weapon of choice is a black click pen, with a piece of duct tape wrapped around it, but i have two backups in case i need them.
after a while you start to slow down, as if the clouds have turned gray and the road has slowly turned to mud. the hillybilly is getting full. but there's still food on his plate. you're hitting brick walls everywhere, thinking the producer must have been drunk when he put this thing together, until you realize its YOU--you're not as smart as you thought you were jackrabbit. the high turns into fixation but the harder you look the more elusive the clues. 'if anyone in Life is in charge,' you say to the air, 'this shit is broken.' no answer. and so you toss it aside and go on to other things for the day.
the next day is another day--sun in the morning, coffee, cigarette, First Things... except for yesterdays frosh looking like a sloppy day-after snowfield. were promises made? well, i inked the page, you say. and? it's tuesday. i mean, comeon... and its off to the Box to meet the guys, 'sophomores are great, you know why?' et cetera. you have to spit out the pinch of bullshit you keep tucked in your gum before you can answer, but the bus is coming anyway so so long fellas dont be too rough on em now...
on the bus, ravaging tuesday with the black lancer, your head goes back to the breakfast table, monday lying next there all sprawled out and scribble-scrabbled. an old king in a foreign land says, 'who will want her now?' so sorry but tuesday is flowing like honey, the blank lancer marking the spots, finding the pieces. but things are getting knee-high now and the truck is slowing down slowing until FucK, we're back to square one. so much for bagging a sophomore.
wednesday comes, thursday, friday. then a two day respite without puzzles, just drinking and gardening and napping and church. then monday, tuesday, wednesday, building in stacks on the table like a stack of pancakes...
but Life decided to teach a lesson on the three C's--commitment, consummation, and creation--june 13, 2006. a freshman was chosen, heavy on the fours with a fair share of token clues, signs of jonah, three-quarters done. i buried the remaining papers in the recycling, but saved one as a backup, in addition to the freshman that Life had picked out.
and so i chipped away. i actually had begun yesterday, but laid her down for the night hoping to see with fresh eyes tomorrow. it worked. i penned in a few more words with black lancer, and was left with a one letter gape for expelled roman poet; a 2 word 5 letter girter; and a five letter playful swimmer.
my rules were that the crossword had to be completed in one day (which did not happen), and that it was completed by me alone, with no help from the internet or dictionaries. i hoped to stick to that, but in showing the paper playing board to rebecca over turkey burgers on the front porch, her eyes saw things that i didn't: oVid the poet, of course! "is alayed to lessen?" "allayed has two l's." what about ABATED? BIEN SUR! that would make the swimmer an OTTER and...'isn't a girter what women where on their legs?' rebecca says, 'no, that's a garder.' well i'll be. "well, in that case a girter must be...an I beam" without looking at the puzzle. "ah, duh!" she says, pulling the word from my mouth and laying them in the boxes. Life smiles down. a new person has helped fill in my gaps. new puzzles will come each weekday, fresh fields, clean floors--which means we never really solve anything, complete anything, ultimately. we can't get tomorrow's paper today, and even if we solve each days puzzle there will always be a new one coming out the next day. but fuck all that. today we have consummation.
i will be framing the monday june 12 crossword to be hung in my apartment in a yet to be determined location (probably my bathroom). in the meantime you may see a copy of the completed crossword below. and zeb if you point anything out on this one i will surely find a way to blacklist you on myspace.
By DJ Krush