I have a new hobby—puzzles.
I’m sure many of you immediately perked up when I said that because you are also a “puzzler.”
Well, I’m a novice to be sure, but it’s still pretty surprising that at this point in my life, after living over six decades, I suddenly stumbled into a love of doing puzzles.
If you would have mentioned to me in the past that one day I would enjoy doing puzzles, and I mean really, really enjoy them, I would have laughed pretty hard. You could have never made me believe that I would enter the “puzzler” club. But yes, I admit I am in the club and I truly do love doing them.
It all started earlier this year after my daughter Chrissy gave me a very unexpected gift last November for my birthday. It was a 1,000 piece puzzle with a picture of different Fender guitars—all kinds of shapes and colors. I am a musician who plays rhythm and bass guitar, but I remember getting the puzzle and thinking to myself, “well, this is nice, but why in the heck would she get me a puzzle when no one in the family has ever thought I did them.”
The puzzle sat on a cabinet in my office for months. I never even thought about doing it. But one evening I was a little bored, didn’t have any games to watch, didn’t want to go into my office to do newspaper work, and suddenly I remembered about the puzzle.
“What the heck,” I thought. “I’ll give it a try.”
It probably took about 10 minutes of working on it and I realized, “hey, this is a lot of fun.” And I’m the kind of guy who loves to do things when I can play music along with it, so this was working fine. I put on a channel with 70’s rock and roll, got started and I was as happy as can be.
Since I started the first one they have not stopped and I have now done 12 puzzles, all horizontal with 1,000 pieces each since that is what fits on my extra table in my office. When the wife and I finish our evening TV watching and I’m still staying up later, I head into the office, put on the music and work on my puzzle until I am ready to hit the hay.
Now that I’ve started doing puzzles I’m seeing that there is a lot to understand and learn about them. I’ve learned that cheap puzzles aren’t worth saving the money on since the pieces don’t fit cleanly together. I am also still trying to understand what kind of puzzle pictures I want to do. When I buy a few new ones it’s kind of a shot in the dark to know what to get, especially if you show up where I got directed to this past weekend—a store in Biloxi at the Edgewater Mall called Puzzles, USA.
This is a crazy store where they claim to have the largest puzzle in the world completed and hanging on the wall—it is 32,000 pieces! The owner of the store is Dave Murray and he told me he has made a living, mainly selling puzzles, for 21 years. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. I have gained a great appreciation for any small business that makes it, but to do so mainly selling puzzles? Now that’s pretty good.
Dave also does the matting and framing of puzzles, another aspect of puzzling I now understand about. Apparently many people want to frame their completed puzzles. Not me. I like to finish them, leave them up for a day or so, and then toss them back in the box and move to the next one. I have no personal connection or fond feelings for any of them—they are just puzzles to have fun putting together.
I mean, how many framed puzzles do you really want on your wall at home? I’m guessing not a ton. But apparently a lot of people like framing their puzzles which allows them to enjoy their work beyond just putting the puzzle toether. More power to them—it’s just not my thing.
I have a feeling that most serious puzzlers already know about the store in the Edgewater Mall, but if you don’t, it is positively worth your while to make the trip if you want to purchase some great puzzles of every topic you can think of. And Dave likes to play Pink Floyd music in the store!
My wife had purchased a series of five car puzzles for me and so far they have been my favorite puzzles to do. Right now I’m working on a puzzle that has 27 different self-portraits of Vincent van Gogh, all in one 1,000 piece puzzle. It’s quite challenging, but is turning out to be a lot of fun.
So if you are looking for a new hobby or a way to pass the time you might surprise yourself by doing a puzzle. I certainly did and I’m glad my daughter had the crazy idea to get me to try.
Guess I need to listen to my girls more often.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.