Are you playing Wordle? I came late to the Wordle party, but once I started, there was absolutely no stopping. It is now a part of my morning ritual that begins when I rise at 5:00, followed immediately by that glorious first sip of coffee (taken slowly, often with eyes closed to savor the moment), then by my first guess at the Wordle of the day. Word puzzles have long been a favorite, dating back to childhood games of Hangman, word searches, increasingly challenging crossword puzzles, and Scrabble.
The origin of this love was surely my parents, consummate readers and word lovers both. While my mother was an English teacher and not surprisingly a lover vocabulary, it was my father who was the family wordsmith. My father is one of the most passionate learners I have ever met. A teacher for most of my childhood, he taught himself about computers and programming before his school owned a single computer, and became so proficient that he was tapped to oversee the initiation and development of computer usage for the school. He taught himself how to make jewelry, how to oil paint. His list of projects a research topics was long and the stack of books beside his recliner constant. Playing Scrabble with him was always fun…until he casually placed two or three tiles in just the right place to create a words no one had ever heard of for a score that crushed the hope of anyone who thought they might win.
As an adult living a few hours’ drive from my parents, we connect mostly through phone conversations. My mother is the talker, (a trait I inherited in spades), and the two of us could (and often do) ramble for an hour or so at a time about everything and nothing all at once. My father will also be on the line, listening with some degree of amusement (and possibly some exasperation). We ‘chat’ mostly via quick and sporadic text messages, but with age and a pandemic limiting the scope of his activities, I often find myself wishing we had more to talk about. Enter Wordle. After only one round, I knew that Dad would be just as invested in this little daily pursuit as I. I sent a quick text with a link, and within two days, he was playfully chiding me for starting him on a new obsession. We now send each other our results, cheering each other on or showing off a particularly impressive solution. We talk about it over the phone — strategies, the NYT acquisition, the origin story of the game, the social contract of not spoiling the game for anyone… A whole new conversation has begun,