Often, late in the evening when my husband is watching a sports program on TV, I indulge in two of my favorite activities: solving murder mysteries and working crossword puzzles.
I get into my pajamas, complete all my pre-bedtime routines, prop up several pillows on my side of the bed, slide between the sheets, and get to work.
I turn to a new page in my crossword puzzle book (a spiral-ringed one, with good paper, not newsprint), pick up my pencil (a sharp one with a good eraser), and turn on the bedroom TV to a pre-recorded episode of Dateline, 20/20, 48 Hours, Forensic Files, or Columbo.
My goal is to fill in the blanks in the crossword puzzle on my lap and identify the guilty party in the murder mystery on TV.
Murder mystery shows notoriously move at a slow rate. Critical scenes are shown and re-shown in order to make sure viewers follow the storyline. It is at these times during the show that I ponder crossword questions.
This pondering has taught me the answers to some hard puzzle questions. For example, I now know:
- A four-letter word for a West African republic is Mali.
- A four-letter word for a river in Eastern Europe is Ural.
- A five letter word for the capital of Morocco is Rabat.
- A five-letter word for a small Eurasian willow is Osier.
Of course, this knowledge will serve me in the future only: (1) When I am solving other crossword puzzles or (2) If I land a spot as a contestant on Jeopardy.
My watching of murder mysteries has also not been a waste of time. I have learned these important guidelines for successfully committing homicide:
- Do not take with you to the murder scene your cell phone or any other electronic device associated with your name.
- Do not drive to the scene in a vehicle equipped with GPS.
- Shave your entire body and wear a scuba diving suit in order to avoid leaving hair, dandruff, or skin cells at the scene.
- Study the scene beforehand and locate all security cameras. Disable every one of them.
- Don’t drive your vehicle on a dirt road when traveling to the murder spot because the pattern of your tire tread can be identified and traced.
- Don’t drive off-road on your murder route because if you do, some rare weed found in only one location on earth will attach itself to your car’s bumper and nail you as the perp.
- Never return to the scene of the crime.
- If a detective interviews you, show no interest in the crime. For goodness sake do NOT try to throw the detective off your scent by suggesting other possible perpetrators or motivations or whacky reasons why the murderer acted as he/she acted.
This information will serve me in the future only if I decide to kill someone. The odds of that happening are about the same as the odds of my being chosen as a Jeopardy contestant.
I recently discovered that Amazon.com offers what may be the perfect puzzle book for me: Crossword Murder, a book that allows readers to solve a crime and complete six crime-related crossword puzzles at the same time. Imagine that!
Utopia can be achieved after all.