No one understands my pain, my absolute and abject misery. You see, I love doing logic puzzles. The ones where you are supplied with all the clues, like:
A. Suzie’s hot dog costs .05 cents less than Tony’s.
B. Tony likes to drink Pepsi with his hot dog, that he does not cover in mustard.
C. Neither Bill nor Bob drink water with their hot dogs, but paid less then Suzie.
You are then given more clues, and you are supposed to figure out how much each hot dog costs, who drank what with their dogs, etc. You’re given the complete list of the clues, with all the information you need to answer all the questions.
Well, this is where the misery comes in. I am terrible at these logic puzzles. I just really suck at them. I mean, it’s like my mind can’t grasp the beginning, can’t unravel the logical tangle, stops understanding basic words like “before” and “under.” I can almost see the thread, but not quite. It’s a bit like hitting your head against a wall, but it’s a wall made of sheet rock. It’s should be thin enough that I should break through, but I can neither break through nor can I quit trying.
When I attempt to explain my dilemma to my family, they just look at me strangely, as if I’m the weird one.
“It’s like math,” my son complains.
“It’s nothing like math,” I say. “Nothing. I don’t enjoy math at all. There is no math involved.”
“It’s like taking SATs,” my husband shudders backing away from me as if I’m contagious, “Why would I do that for fun?” And this is a man who chose to take two BAR exams, to pass them in separate states.
But I want someone to listen to me, so I could talk it through, to help me. As things stand I wind up muttering to myself and scratching my head with both hands. Maybe I am a crazy person.
But I figured out why these puzzles, and my difficulty with them, is driving me crazy. It stems from a pure love of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes, my hero, who was so incredibly smart. More than that, he made these leaps of deductive, logical reasoning, sideways thoughts of logic, as beautiful and graceful as mental ballet. I wanted to do that, to be like that, to think quickly, pliably, differently, since I was 13 years old and read my very first Holmes story. It took my breath away. This was it, my first love, first infatuation (admittedly of a man who never existed). Why would I need anything else if I could think like that? My life would be complete. I would be able to make a living, to make a life. This was INDEPENDENCE.
As things stood with me when I was a child, as they stand with me now, I don’t have a great degree of … financial independence. I do not have a full-time or a part-time job. On occasion I work outside of the house, a few hours here and there, and I make enough to go see a movie, or get a book or three. However, if I had a mind like the Great Detective, I would make a living like he did. I do not.
I have decided to strengthen that weak muscle and work on the logic puzzles. I gnash my teeth. I cry. I feel incredibly sorry for myself and can’t believe that I have higher degrees. How is that I know how to drive a car yet cannot think my way out of a paper bag? What is wrong with me? No, really, what the fuck is wrong with me? It’s like I am a glutton for punishment. I keep coming back, again and again.
But maybe there is a glimmer of hope, because every so often, I have a rare and wondrous spark of Holmes. Each new puzzle is like new hope. And, miracle of miracles, once in a while, I get it! Slowly, inching along, I figure it out, one clue at a time. Then, it all becomes worth it.
Look, it’s like playing golf, but not well. You curse, you throw your clubs, you behead tall grass and promise yourself that you will never, ever play this stupid devil’s game again. But once in a blue moon, the stars align, and you hit a perfect shot, right on the sweet spot of the club and you feel it from your hands, all along your arms, into your shoulders, like a tuning fork. You watch that ball make the most graceful of arcs, fly high and straight and true, and you know you will never give up this most pure of games.
I will continue working on this humbling activity. For now, I am but Watson.