THE SECOND CHANCE (or: Sorry, no co-workers allowed)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Sudoku Fever!
I hate trendy things.

If it's trendy, you can almost definitely count me out.

Fortunately for me, Jerry tends to feel the same way.

We incessantly mock those around us who wear the Lance Armstrong yellow wristbands -- sneering at them as we laugh at the comparisons to those jelly bracelets Madonna made so fashionable back in 1985.

Guys with man purses? Well, except for Other Drew, who looks good in a 'murse,' we tend to scoff.

But this past week we got caught up in the latest trend to hit your local newspaper -- SUDOKU!

Sudoku is an insidious little puzzle game that is now on most newspaper crossword pages. It takes a 9x9 grid, broken into 9 smaller grids of 3x3 and poses a simple challenge: to solve the puzzle, each row, column and box has to contain each of the numbers 1 through 9. It starts off easily enough -- kind of like those old fill-in-the-blanks crossword puzzles, but very quickly, you get pulled in...and then it becomes an obligation to try to finish it...almost an obsession.

And if there's one thing Jerry and I like, it's a challenge. So, this past week we decided to start joining the nation -- let's Sodoku, baby!

But last night, after one miserably long, after-work evening with one of the easiest of the Sudoku puzzles (the ones labeled GENTLE, almost mockingly so...), I think our love affair with Sudoku is over.

After 3 long hours of trying to fill in the blanks and crack its almost ingenious code, Jerry and I both tumbled into bed as broken men, doomed to hours of Tetris-like hallucinations...trying to put numbers into boxes instead of twist shapes that fall from the top of a video game screen. It was the moment we realized we were both obsessed...and beaten.

This, my friends, is why I hate trends.

(PS: I have to admit in a moment of honesty -- Jerry actually completed his Sodoku. I was close, but then realized one row had two 3's in it...meaning I had failed miserably, and I had no way of knowing how to fix it. So, I was the failure. But my failure impacted Jerry, as I couldn't put the stupid thing down.)

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