How They Met: Four Letters, Starts with "L"
The Crossword Couple
When Greg Pliska proposed to Jessica Switzer in January 2006, he did it with crossword puzzles. That much she'd expected; after all, the couple's 10-month courtship -- which followed their meeting at the 2005 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, in Stamford, Connecticut -- had been punctuated with romantic crosswords that Greg composed just for her. But even Jessica was surprised at the ingenuity of this one. "When she wasn't home, I hung clues for a game that would lead her through a series of puzzles," says Greg. "The final puzzle had two different sets of clues. When all of the spaces were filled in, both spelled out 'Will you marry me?' in each of the puzzle's four corners, with the answer in the center. But the center answer in one set spelled 'No,' the other 'Yes.' She had to figure all that out and then make her choice."
"Of course I chose 'yes,'" says Jessica, ticking off the qualities that she loves in Greg. "He's well-read, he's a math and science whiz, he's a musician. He's good at so many things yet he's unassuming. And even though he's impossibly smart, he's adorable and charming and funny and cool." Most of all, she says, "he's a deeply good person."
Jessica had been a regular at the tournament since 1997. "I'd always loved doing the New York Times crossword puzzle," she says, "but when my college roommate and I started going to the tournament, we were embarrassed to tell anyone because it sounded so nerdy. It was not exactly the sexiest of hobbies."
Greg, a crossword devotee who'd been attending the tournament for even longer, would have been just the guy to disabuse Jessica of that notion -- if the two had ever managed to meet. "Jessica has a picture of herself at the 2004 event standing with Will Shortz, the New York Times crossword puzzle editor and founder of the tournament," says Greg. "I'm standing right behind them, but we might as well have been miles apart. I guess it just wasn't the moment we were supposed to connect."
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