I read that with all of this family time spent indoors, jigsaw puzzles are in high demand.
Ironically, I find this puzzling because I myself am not a big puzzle person. Nor is my family.
I have puzzled a few times with ill effects. After about 30 minutes my eyes begin to cross, my fingers grow numb, and I start to drool, with very little to show for my efforts. In contrast, I can experience the same outcome binge watching TV, but over a much longer time horizon.
In fact, I would prefer to watch three seasons of a guy putting together a jigsaw puzzle than actually putting one together myself. I can skip a couple of episodes and not get lost. Or just fast forward to the season finale.
When I do jigsaw puzzles I also start thinking about all of the old world Bavarian guys who have probably lost their fingers to band saws at my expense. It doesn’t help knowing this notion is utterly foolish and that misnamed jigsaw puzzles are actually laser cut. Because I have seen James Bond movies. And lasers in the hands of old world Bavarian guys are dangerous too.
But more importantly for me, jigsaw puzzles are not all that conducive to drinking.
When my kids were little I did puzzles with them. I remember they had one made of wood with large pieces that were cut in the shape of easily recognizable states such that the assembled puzzle yielded a map of North America. I was pretty good at that puzzle, although I never was able to complete Canada.
When Texas went missing we gave the puzzle away, which I deeply regret because there is nothing that deflates pride more than working diligently on a puzzle only to discover in the end that it can never be completed. I can’t imagine what deep political scars I have left on some innocent kid who labored over putting our country together and failed.
Not to mention growing up never knowing where Texas is.
As they grew a little older my kids occasionally embarked on missions to complete more complex puzzles they received as presents. The pieces were smaller and there were more of them. I taught them how to do the edge first, then sort the pieces by color or identifiable markings. By the time they were forced to abandon them weeks later, they discovered that floors are not the best place to construct jigsaw puzzles. They don’t do well long term in the presence of cats or vacuum cleaners.
Through my tutelage they either learned a lesson in dashed hopes or effective time management. I am not sure which. But they don’t do jigsaw puzzles anymore either.
I gave those puzzles away too. Hopefully all the pieces ended up in the right boxes.
The problem with jigsaw puzzles is that they take too long to complete. I don’t have the patience to spend hours combing through hundreds of similar shapes in order to experience the fleeting joy of finding the one that fits, even knowing that I am one step closer to the top of Mt. Everest which is pictured on the box.
And jigsaw puzzles also take up prime real estate on the dining room table which could otherwise be used for beer pong. Or maybe eating.
I don’t know. There is just not much of an enjoyable return for me. I would rather be defeated by a crossword puzzle because I can still feel good completing half of it. Not so with a jigsaw puzzle.
Of course, I understand why they are appealing. It is all about tenacity to accomplish something that seems large and insurmountable. It is an arduous process, building piece by locking piece. And when you are done you gain the satisfaction knowing that you have reassembled a picture which was purposefully disassembled in order that you might lose your sanity and your eyesight reassembling it.
That is all well and good, but if you don’t enjoy the journey, what is the point?
The point is that now we have all been virally cut into a puzzle that seems impossible to reassemble. We are spread in isolated pieces which, for the time being, we can sort but not lock together. And even when we can start building again, it is not entirely clear what the puzzle pieces are supposed to resemble. It is hard to see the picture. There is no box.
And pieces will be missing. Too many pieces.
But it is a puzzle worth working on. I have a few pieces in my house. We fit together pretty nicely. It is a start.
So despite my avoidance of jigsaw puzzles, I must admit that I look forward to reconnecting and working on this one real soon.