“You do the crossword in pen!?!” a colleague shouted, somewhat shocked, somewhat in awe–it might have been a question, but came out a bit like an accusation.
I could have stumbled through my answer, or I could have answered with smugly toned “of course.” Instead, I answered with a yes, hinting at slight confusion or modesty. Regardless, yes, I usually do the crossword in pen.
What does that say about me? Does that speak of confidence or arrogance? Perhaps, I am just doing puzzles which are way too easy. It isn’t like I am doing the New York Times Sunday Crossword in pen. I am doing the daily commuter free newspaper crossword in pen.
And that is a big part of it. The bus bumps around a lot; especially now in pothole season. The pen is much easier to guide while my bus driver weaves slightly in the lane to avoid the bigger chunks of broken pavement. And given the thin newsprint (read cheap quality) that they print the free paper on, you can imagine how a sharpened pencil would go through the paper like a hot knife through butter–don’t even get me started on a mechanical pencil. I suppose I could use a dull pencil, though I have never liked the look of that.
Back to the confidence, or over confidence and arrogance impression. This is actually not true either. In fact, using pen forces me to consider my answer more than if I could easily erase it. I have to be much surer before I commit. This usually means solving several clues before, down and across, before I scribe the letters into their respective boxes. And if I am taking a leap of faith (what others might call guessing) I either have to write small, or put very little pressure on the paper so that my answer barely registers a ghost like image.
One helpful person suggested I buy an erasable pen. I pondered this for a short while. At first I felt that even getting a clipboard was investing more money than was necessary into something that was just one of my commuting distractions–though now I am quite grateful that I did. Having a dedicated pen for the crossword would be nice, but it seems like a bit of a hassle to make sure I brought it every time. In end, I came to realize that while I claim no arrogance, at the very least, I like to put on the air of confidence.
For you, is it pen or pencil?