. . . I've always loved riddles, ever since I was a kid. I don't think this characteristic is particularly unique. I think all children love riddles. . . .
Be that as it may, my riddle addiction comes home to me in retrospect with particular clarity as I look back on an incident from my middle childhood. We were living in Illinois. I must have been in the third grade. My teacher, Mrs. Harrison, kept a small bookcase near her desk. It was always stocked with books as a sort of casual, in-classroom library. She encouraged us students to read during breaks, free time, lunch time, etc. We were even allowed to take the books home. We were supposed to bring them back, of course. Honor system. No formal checkout. Mrs. Harrison was very trusting.
I read many of these books and greatly enjoyed them. I took them home and brought them back. And I don't remember any of them--except for one wholly delightful, supernally wonderful paperback entitled The Arrow Book of Brain Teasers. It was full of puzzles and riddles. I loved it. It was one of the greatest books I'd ever read. I took it home time after time, night after night and over weekends. It was an endless source of fascination. Trying to guess the riddles and solve the puzzles transported me.
I enjoyed The Arrow Book of Brain Teasers so much that at the end of the school year, I stole it. Consciously. On purpose. I intentionally did not bring it back on the last day of school. We were moving to Texas that summer. I figured that even if the school officials figured out who had it, they'd never be able to find me. . . .