Jessica Felleman is joining for another guest post.
As readers of roomescapeartist.com must know, Lisa and David were recently married. To follow their epic puzzle engagement, all assumed something escape-related would appear at the wedding. However, David adamantly claimed that NO PUZZLES would be present at their nuptials and Lisa was too damn busy to contradict him. They had enough to plan and deal with, so NO PUZZLE.
Yeah, right. Right?
On the day of their wedding, I walked into the gallery venue and picked up a program. After settling in, I flipped through my program to see what awaited us. On the last page of the program was a letter to the guests, who, like me, had thought “Yeah, right,” when David said NO PUZZLE. It welcomed us, thanked us for coming, and assured us that David had done nothing so “childish” as create a puzzle for their wedding. A little disheartened, I read further, only to find out that indeed SOMEONE had taken it upon themselves to correct this grave error. A group of David and Lisa’s friends had stolen their champagne! The perpetrators had left behind a simple note:
“Five bottles of bubbly, for the five fastest pairs. Without XXXY your search will fall short.”
How rude, how disrespectful. How exciting!
Below the letter was a URL, LividSpira.space (“Livid” being their conglomerated name), which I immediately loaded on my phone. This linked to a list of ten suspects. Ten of David and Lisa’s close friends (who they were confident could take a joke), and those most likely to be the guilty parties. Each suspect was presented with a photograph, a moniker, and a haiku. For example… the haiku they wrote about me:
New York should have crushed by now
Maybe she’ll survive?
These haikus clearly needed to be interpreted if we wanted to retrieve the champagne. After reading through them all several times, I knew these would come in handy later, but we needed to start with the letter left by the thieves.
Following the wedding service, which was a beautiful and perfect representation of both David and Lisa’s personalities and love for each other, guests who’d already correctly solved the “XXXY” chromosomal conundrum snuck off in pairs to the restrooms to freshen up. I teamed up with a few roomescapeartist.com regulars and we pooled our resources. (Not fair! But we’re really competitive!)
In the women’s room there was an odd piece of paper stuck behind a bottle of air freshener above the paper towels. Now, normally air freshener in a bathroom would not be at all suspicious, but I knew there was something to find.
The paper was exactly the same shape as the program with strategic rectangles cut out. When laid over the last page of the program only certain words showed through, but they seemed like nonsense. I took a picture and left the card in place so other astute puzzlers could find it. Then I went to find the XY to my XX to see what he’d found in the men’s room.
From the men’s room a list of words labeled as the “Code Book” paired off words, many of which matched those showing through the cutout found in the women’s room.
Before code (Nonsense!):
“You’re here with all of our family and friends for a puzzle you create to childish some of our guests do it confiscated the champagne will sell party you retrieve it don’t which of our family or friends elected to our booze and states five bubbly five pair XXXY will fall short.”
After code (With punctuation added for clarity!):
“You’re here with all of our family and friends for a puzzle. You need to find some of our guests. An art aficionado confiscated the champagne, a healer can help you retrieve it. The team that finds which of our family or friends have the clues to our booze and states five seven five from bottom to top will prevail.”
We translated half the clue before rushing The Curator. She was a damn good actress and kept us at bay with actual wedding tasks she was working on while we fumbled to interpret the second half of the clue correctly.
When shouting numbers at her didn’t get us anywhere, someone realized that the haikus did indeed play a second roll, but only if we read hers to her from bottom to top. Surrendering to our wit (or terrifying intensity?) she led us to the location of the pilfered booze.
Now we needed a healer. We perused the list of suspects and settled on The Doctor. Funny enough, he had been following the four of us around in a bit of a daze ‘participating’ or so we thought, so we turned on him pretty hard. When finally presented with the correct order of his haiku, he chirped off a string of numbers, which gave us the digits we needed to crack the safe and rescue one bottle of champagne.
Having solved the puzzle within the first thirty minutes of the reception, we could now toast to the happy couple and enjoy the rest of our friends’ wedding while watching other guests make their way through the clues to the champagne safe.
Most people cringe when I exclaim that David and Lisa had a puzzle at their wedding, but it was designed to be unobtrusive. The majority of the guests never noticed it and enjoyed a perfectly normal – by David and Lisa’s standards – wedding experience of food, drink, and dancing. The guests who noticed it could solve it at their leisure, as the night went on, while still participating in toasts, cake, and dancing. And for those of us who do this thing all the time, we could tackle it head on and then basque in the glow of victory all night.
It was difficult enough for a seasoned player, but kind enough to newcomers. It required teamwork and a little hard thinking. In the end, everyone loved the way it played out.
As luck would have it, they had exactly as many winning teams as they had bottles of bubbly.
So I tip my hat to the master puzzlers on this one. Congratulations!