A Thanksgiving tradition around my parents’ table is that of the “Thank-you-gods,” wherein the large group of loud, alcoholically lubricated guests each give public thanks before digging into the traditional first course of Oysters Rockefeller. Typical statements include: “Thank you god for my family/my job/that I’m pregnant/that I am not pregnant.” This year, a family friend said something I’d never heard before: “Thank you god for Sudoku!” My dad hooted, “Sudokuuuuuu!” I had no idea what Sudoku was, but found out soon enough.
The next day, I came down with the flu. I tore rapidly through the book I’d brought along, as well as another I borrowed, and then was left with nothing to do. And then I spotted my dad’s Sudoku book, lying inconspicuously on the kitchen counter. “What’s Sudoku?” I asked.
My dad gave it to me in a nutshell: Sudoku is a grid, 9×9, comprised of nine boxes, each 3×3; each nine-square line across, down, and each 3×3 box must contain each of the digits 1-9. “This is fun?” I asked. “Try it,” he said.
I did, and became so hooked that I tore several pages out of his “Sudoku Black Belt” book for the ride back to Santa Barbara. The game is dangerously, fiercely addictive, in a Tetris sort of way. That night, I dreamed of Sudoku. The next day, I was sent home from work, so as not to infect any of my coworkers, but made a pit stop on the way — not to the store for chicken soup, but to Borders, for my very own book of Sudoku.