Ettie Newlands

During quarantine, my daughter and her husband were home in Myrtle Beach working on a jigsaw puzzle.

I was at home in Conway talking to her on the phone.

She was a little distracted, looking for pieces, but suddenly shouted, “Hey, you’re cheating” to her husband.

Huh? How can a person cheat at a jigsaw puzzle?

It’s not like they were playing cards where he could take two.

Or Scrabble where he could use the dictionary or try to get away with a bogus word.

“How is he cheating?” I asked her, sure that I misunderstood. (I misunderstand how my daughter and her husband communicate fairly often).

“He’s looking at the picture,” she told me, with what I knew was a perfectly straight face.

“That’s not cheating, you’re supposed to look at the picture,” I told her. “That’s why they include a picture, so you can look at it.”

I was wrong, she told me.

When you do a jigsaw puzzle, you’re not supposed to look at the picture. You’re supposed to just match pieces according to the subtle nuances of color shadings.

“Has not going to Target for a couple weeks affected your ability to reason,” I asked her?

When her Dad and I do jigsaw puzzles, I told her, he holds the box and I hold the included picture, and we look at them almost continuously.

“Then you’ve been cheating every single time you did a jigsaw puzzle,” she told me in her ‘I mean no disrespect but you’re wrong’ voice.

“I didn’t raise you that way,” I heard myself shouting, obviously needing a little retail therapy myself.

“Mom,” she said, now using her ‘No, really, I’m not rolling my eyes’ voice, “That’s just wrong. Look up directions for how to do jigsaw puzzles.”

I told her there were no directions for such things any more than there were directions for taking a walk.

Making my point, I thought, I asked her why they put a picture in the box if not to look at it.

That, she told me, was just to make sure you got the puzzle you actually bought.

I was ready to hang up. I needed to take a walk.

And for the sake of future conversations, I’d Google taking-a-walk directions.

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