#724 Placing the last piece of the puzzle

start with the edges next time kidsI don’t have the patience for puzzles.

If I’m hanging out at your house late at night and someone walks into the room shaking a big 500-piece box with a cover photo of a gray boulder balanced on a gray cliff, then I’m not having it.

Okay, I might help you find the corner pieces or start the first edge, but that’s it, honestly. After it gets into the no man’s land of middle pieces, and people start making stack-piles of colors, passing around the box-top and squinting, and silently trying to clip piece after piece after piece together, well I just can’t take it anymore.

When everybody crowds around the coffee table I start sulking and retreat to the couch where I occupy myself with productive jobs such as stacking all the coasters, finger-dragging the crumbs out the side of the cushions, or trying to eat a potato chip without chewing it, which is actually much more difficult than it sounds. (Quick tip: focus all your energy on sucking the flavor powder off very slowly and make sure to avoid all accidental biting in order to score a soggy and bland potato slice perfect for swallowing.)

But see, give it a shot!this is why it’s so great when somebody finally places the last piece of the puzzle.

There’s usually some giddy anticipation as the pace quickens towards the finale. All fingers get into the game, attaching major edges together and finally finding that one piece we all knew was here somewhere with the other half of the bird’s wing on it.

Hey, the last piece of the puzzle is great because it means you have the last piece of the puzzle. Let’s not overlook this fact. After all, who among us hasn’t picked up a cheapo garage sale special and only discovered it was four pieces short when you were putting it together? Talk about a buzz kill.

Secondly, it means you finally get to see the big picture. Up until that point it’s all poking, prodding, and passing around the dog-eared box top, but now we’ve got a poster. Some people even mount these things and stick them on a wall.

Lastly, there is a thick and heady sense of smoking satisfaction in the air. Even though I’m probably drinking a tall glass of wine and flipping channels past infomercials at this point, even I can feel it. The gang all pitched in, all helped out, and together accomplished the mission.

Now the party can really get nuts.


breathtaking boulders on the sunny cliffside

Photos from: here, here, and here

30 thoughts on “#724 Placing the last piece of the puzzle

  1. You can be a hero. When helping with the edge, palm a piece of the puzzle. Then when everyone is frantically looking for the last piece, which is now missing, join in the hunt and “find” the piece. Instant hero. Sometimes, the way my mind works frightens me.

  2. You know those 3-d puzzles…the ones that have a sponge backer and tried to take over the puzzle world? They didn’t.

    1. And this heartbreak can come in many forms:
      Missing puzzle piece
      Soggy/mushy puzzle piece
      Piece missing a prong
      Picture part peeled off

      Saboteurs be damned!

  3. In his last years, jigsaw puzzles were one of my dad’s favourite ways to pass those dreary winter days. My mom tried to get into it, but it just wasn’t her thing. However, always the gentleman, dad would never finish the puzzle. He always left the last few pieces for my mom to fill in.

  4. I love puzzles. Actually, if there’s time at the garage sale, I’ll pop open the top and count the pieces to make sure they’re all there; that way there’s no heartbreak. Of course, there’s rarely enough time to count 500 or 1,000 pieces, so I mainly take the kiddie ones for my girls (3 and 4). If we do get a puzzle that’s missing a few, they turn it into “salad” or movie tickets, or chicken nuggets.

  5. Steve- you are a cruel cruel man.

    I love doing jigsaw puzzles and have recognized that I’m selfish about it too. I don’t want to share with others. What if they get all the good pieces? And yes- the last piece is awesome.

  6. While I haven’t done a puzzle myself in a really long time, I remember how great this feels. And now that I’m a uncle, I get the joy of watching my little nephew beam with pride when he puts together his 50-piece pirate puzzle, even if it does require a little “help” from uncle Freddo.

    For those of you with time to spare, here’s a link to the on-line version of the world’s hardest jigsaw puzzle. Yup – that’s right.. they’re all the same color. Not so awesome.


  7. The worst, speaking as a mom, is when your kids are putting together a puzzle, and they’re agonizing over that missing piece–and you’re over dusting in the corner, humming to yourself, because you know dang well that the piece they’re looking for is the one you found under the couch last month, and said to yourself “We probably don’t even have the rest of this puzzle anymore” as you dropped it into the trash can.

    Hypothetically speaking, of course….

  8. I enjoyed the post and all the comments involving adventures in puzzling.

    I remember one time after furiously searching the table, the floor, with two friends for the last piece… it had been camouflaging itself against the gray brick on the fireplace mantle.

    I think a prankster was involved, but I’ll never know for sure.

  9. I used to love to do jigsaw puzzles. I would commandeer the dining room table on a rainy day and do my 500 to 1000 piece puzzles. I would not let anyone help me. The frustration, however, is when you have a little Boston Terrier dog, who, becoming jealous of you spending time with the puzzle instead of his royal canine-ness, knocks your elbow so that a piece of the puzzle falls. He then devours it, so, when you are at the end of the puzzle, you end up with a distinct one-piece-in-the-middle-missing-spot. You also have a very smug little fur person glaring up at you as if to say, “I DARE you to yell at me!!!”

  10. We lost the last piece of a 3000 piece puzzle. It was very worrysome. This worry occupied a minute or two of every waking hour. Then my daughter found the piece the night my son’s poker friends came over for a game. The 3 of us jumped up and down cheering and ran to fit it into the puzzle. The looks from the poker buddies? Priceless!

  11. Holy crap, I recognize those boulders. That final picture is from Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego…where I work.


  12. Better way to eat a chip without chewing it:

    Create a vacuum in your mouth so it sticks to the roof of your mouth
    Use your tongue to break it into smaller pieces
    Swallow quickly

    This method leads to no soggie-ness. =D

    ~ Mouse

  13. Growing up, we typically did puzzles with 1000+ pieces, so anyone who hid the last one ended up seriously regretting it. Especially when it was casual contributor who let the rest of us work endless hours through all those patches of sky, grass, water, or, worst of all, SOLID COLOR BACKGROUND, then suddenly stepped in to help as we were nearing the end.

  14. it’s all very puzzling to me…just the word makes me want to jump out of my skin and run!
    But the pic you selected is darling!

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