Friday, August 12, 2005

The Summer of Sudoku

There's a bit of a battle going on in my house. For years, my family has been aware that a summer vacation doesn't really feel like a summer vacation unless it acquires a name derived from something memorable that occurred during that June to September stretch when school was out. As such, I've been leading an aggressive and fairly well-funded campaign for this to be referred to as "The Summer of Sudoku". As you may have guessed, this has a lot to do (okay everything to do) with my new-found love for those addictive little Japanese brain teasers that the local paper has started to run and may be running in yours, as well.

And "campaign" may be the wrong word to use because it's not like I'm not out there twisting arms or anything. Let's just say it's more of a well-thought-out, focused marketing strategy that involves me using the phrase "The Summer of Sudoku" over and over and over, even in circumstances where it's not really applicable. I realize that may sound nonsensical or even a little annoying, but trust me, 1987 didn't become known as the "Summer of President Ronald Reagan's Prostate Surgery" by accident, particularly since the procedure in question was performed in early January.

My fear, however, is that in my house, we may be well on our way to this becoming known as "The Summer of 'Friends'", given how much my kids are watching the show these days. Another possibility that's recently made a showing and could be a real dark-horse candidate is "The Summer of 'What Not To Wear'". Now, I suppose "Summer of 'Friends'" has a nice warm, rosy glow to it that they might look back fondly on in the years to come. But the name does sort of point to my weakness as a parent for allowing them to sit in front of the TV for hours on end when they could be engaged in something more active or healthy, or at least more financially lucrative. Not to mention that I've never really been the show's hugest fan and I'm even less of one now given the continuous TiVo loop it's been on for the past 63 straight days.

I actually have less of a problem with calling it "The Summer of 'What Not To Wear'," but it doesn't exactly trip off the tongue and it sounds a little too catty for my taste. Maybe if we were talking about it being "The Month of 'What Not To Wear'" or "The Day of 'What Not To Wear'". But we're not. Summer is what's up for grabs here and I really think we've got to be more discriminating than that.

That's why I much prefer "Summer of Sudoku" and I honestly believe I'm being pretty objective here. I say that with such confidence because when our housekeeper uses the phrase "Summer of Sudoku" (and before anyone writes in, don't worry -- I'm paying her on a per-usage basis and quite handsomely, I might add) it gives me the feeling that the school vacation has been an interesting and well-spent one, a summer where I've, say, travelled to some exotic new locale where I've had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore a vibrant and dynamic culture heretofore unknown to me. When in actuality, all I've really done is sat at the kitchen table in my t-shirt and boxers and screamed at the family to shut up while I search vainly for that elusive "9" in the upper right hand box.

Anyway, I guess I'm writing this because I need your help. Obviously I can't possibly pay each and every one of you to use the phrase. (To be honest, I wasn't quite anticipating how many times the housekeeper would be able to fit "The Summer of Sudoku" into her talks with the kids but I guess it just goes to show the value of a good incentive). But if it's not too much of an imposition, it would be really terrific if you could throw it into conversation whenever possible. I'm not asking you to go overboard with it or anything. It can be as little or as much as you feel comfortable with.

Oh, and one more thing. I can't stress enough that I'm aware there are many important things going on in the country right now that definitely deserve our attention more. It's just that we're so very close to "The Summer of Sudoku" catching on and going wide. And quite honestly you may be all that stands between me and the past couple months being known in perpetuity as "The Summer of Dad's Massive Weight Gain".

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