Every once in a while, when I'm solving a puzzle, the strangest feeling comes over me of being simultaneously in the driver’s seat of my thinking as I tackle a cryptic crossword and a powerless passenger as my brain conjures a word from goodness only knows where.
Take the clue 17 Down on this Saturday’s Globe and Mail cryptic crossword:
But as I read ahead to another clue, a strange feeling came over me: that of my brain opening the filing cabinets of my memory and leafing through for a long-buried document. Out of nowhere, a word bubbled up into my mind: DERRINGER. A pistol.
What are the odds that a mere two weeks after learning a new word, that same word would appear in the only cryptic crossword that I solve? It was uncanny.
But not unprecedented.
Not two weeks later, the word “amanuensis” appeared in a Fraser Simpson puzzle. My entire family was stumped by this ridiculously obscure word… all except me who was gobsmacked by the coincidence.