This relish for words hasn't always been one I've tasted with such contentment. I can recall younger me working a crossword puzzle, getting to one of those cruxes where a single letter remains missing at the intersection of two answers -- the hole in an otherwise complete smile. Running vertically as I remember was STR_P. I can't recall the horizontal sequence. Needed a vowel, I knew. Trial and error led me to: Strap? Strip? Strep, even? The clue referenced shaving. The cross-ways clue, I realized demanded an 'o.' I hesitated to write in that letter, though, because: Strop? What was that? In that distant era, I reached for an actual dictionary, rather than some smart phone. I looked up 'strop,' a strip (!) of material used for honing a blade. Even as I (resentfully) filled in the missing 'o,' I threw a side-eye glare at the crossword creators and the esoterica they deployed.
Now I can smile wryly that I have a brain pocket prinked-up by 'strop,' plus my own word-stuffed blog entry.
Tartt, Donna. The Goldfinch. New York: Back Bay Books, 2013.