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Having the Last Wordle
I was not yet active on Wordle the day that WATCH sifted through the word-game’s six-guess system. It was, I have heard, a dark day for many wordlers. Countless strings were snapped that day…and in some cases perfection was lost. Forever.

If you are not a Wordle aficionado, I must warn you that it can be addictive. It does not involve the time commitment of a crossword puzzle, or even Sudoku. The average puzzle engagement lasts five minutes start to finish (although today’s took considerably longer — more on that later). But the game calls on a diverse set of resources beyond a mere facility with language. Survival skills come into play, as does the ability to anticipate the actions of people whom you cannot see and have never met. That is to say, reading the thoughts and intentions of the persons who devise the puzzle each day. They are cunning and ruthless.

But the most challenging thing about Wordle is that you come to expect that you will solve it every time you play. And if you don’t, the sting of failure is that much sharper. Unlike a crossword, it is not possible to change an answer. Each 5-letter guess is immutable once it is entered. As with life itself, we must live with our mistakes.

Besides the addiction and the challenge, then, there are psychic effects to contend with. Indeed, if you are not careful, Wordle will lay open your soul like a shucked oyster. I tried to play the game with WATCH as the answer…and failed. Even though it was not a true “live” attempt, I felt the bitter taste of my own unworthiness. Not pleasant, but I think it’s better for me to have known that taste before I experience it in actual combat.

Yes, I am perfect…so far. 44 for 44, but I know that my own dark day will come. In fact, it nearly came this morning with SQUAD. As the minutes ticked by, I could feel the cold fear of my own inadequacy clutching at my throat. The void seemed certain to swallow me up…me and my pathetic ego. I was doomed.

Then, a breakthrough! A panicked, lucky stab…and a wave of pleasure and relief! I would live to see another day of perfection, even though I know it cannot last.

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~ H, Santa Cruz