Larry Hosken: New: Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, but the Edges are Fuzzy

On my way to Saturday's excellent Shinteki Decathlon game, I swung by a few places to take care of a few things. E.g., I stopped to take an unhurried look at that worn-down Jejune sticker I'd spotted a few days before. I'd thought that the sticker was too worn down to read, but I'd been wrong. Now that I could stop and contemplate the sticker, I saw that it was still legible. I snapped a photo, knelt down to put my camera back in my backpack.

Now, I was on my way to Shinteki, so I was decked out in my Mystic Fish outfit—silly fish hat, triclops headlamp, braided magic lasso. And I'd been taking photos of a utility box. So I wasn't that surprised when someone touched my arm and said, "And they think we're crazy?" It was this dude; mostly kempt but somewhat scruffy. I'm mostly kempt but somewhat scruffy, too, so I was inclined to listen to what he had to say.

My first thought, of course, was that this was some planted actor from the Jejune Institute game. Debbie said that she wasn't sure she wanted to keep playing the game because it got "creepy". Being touched by a stranger is creepy. Was this what she meant? Then again, this guy didn't look like an art student. And though our conversation went surreal, it wasn't surreal in a Jejune way.

"I'm going over to that Culinary Academy. I'm going to go in there and teach those kids. I know how to prepare anything. Go ahead. Ask me something. Ask me how to prepare anything."

"Uhm, like anything?"

"Well, it's got to be possible."

"Does it have to be something that I know how to make? Or can it just be, like, something I can imagine? Or..."

"Just ask me."

"OK. Uhm... OK. Right. How would you prepare a dish with durian that doesn't stink?"

"A dish with durian that doesn't stink. All right. First I'd cut the durian into slices. Then I'd soak those slices in milk for three days."

"Huh, OK, that might--"

"Then I'd dump out that milk, and I'd pour in some more milk and I'd soak 'em for another three days."

"Ha, well, OK, that could--"

"Then I'd pour that milk out and then I'd pour in some buttermilk and I'd let that soak for three days."

"Wow, that ought to--"

"And then I'd throw out the durian."

I thought that was pretty funny. The guy was fun to talk to. He had sort of a Fred "Ice" Crimi dissipated-genius vibe going on. I guess he spent a lot of time talking to strangers in bars. I don't think he was part of a game, but he was a good thing.

Sunday I walked through Chinatown past the corner where St Mary's church watches St Mary's square. There was a flurry of motion ahead of me. Through the slowly-milling tourists flashed a quick-moving trio. A mother and sun in matching t-shirts being hustled along by a man handing them an envelope. "Now this is the last clue," he said. "You'll be going up to the fourth floor." And I Jejune-ishly thought No wait, if it's Sunday you go to the third floor. but of course they weren't playing the Jejune game. They went into some tourist knick-knack building across the street from the church. Just another treasure hunt game going on in San Francisco. You can't keep track of them all. Well, I can't, apparently. Man, who were those freaks?

Tags: puzzle hunts pedestrian
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