Love & Letters
The puzzle ran on Jan. 7. Gottlieb invited Mindel, a Brooklyn Law School student, to brunch. "I just said, 'Let's grab the paper,' " he recalls. "Very casual. But I was so nervous." Gottlieb feigned interest in the rest of the paper while Mindel, 24 and a crossword whiz, penciled in answers: 38 Across asked for a Gary Lewis and the Playboys hit (THIS DIAMOND RING); 56 Across was a Paula Abdul song (WILL YOU MARRY ME). Other answers included EMILY, BILLG and YES (the hoped-for response to 56 Across). "I had the feeling the puzzle was saying something," says Mindel, no dummy. "My heart was racing, and I got all hot and flush."
With only four squares undone, Mindel faced her beau and stammered, "This puzzle..." over and over.
"Her voice was all shaky," he says. "I smiled and asked, 'Will you marry me?' " Mindel's reply: an eight-letter phrase for absolutely ("Of course!"). Now the couple, fixed up by their families in 1995, are shopping for a ring and planning an intimate wedding (Shortz is on the guest list). When's the big day? Umm, they haven't a clue.