1. Visit a friend who is in the middle of putting a puzzle together. Notice how much you enjoy helping him with it.
2. Receive a puzzle from said friend as an ostensible gift. (WARNING: If friend is giving you a puzzle that he has not yet put together himself first, ask yourself why.)
3. Have the epiphany after you get home that this puzzle isn’t exactly what you would refer to as “pattern diverse”.
4. Question how much your friend actually likes you and why you always seem to be the object of his “generosity” (e.g., opaque holiday wrapping paper, 800 baud modem, ten-year-old calendar, in-the-shower CD player, “gently used” toothbrushes, dowsing rods, all things sold at Sharper Image, etc).
5. With a looming sense of dread, open the box and dump out one thousand pieces onto a table that now sits in the middle of your living room.
6. Begin flipping over all the pieces so that the color side is up. If you’re unsure which side is the picture side, I cannot help you. This very advanced instruction set assumes you already have a working knowledge of which side of the puzzle piece contains the image. If not, you may wish to consult the primer to this piece entitled “The Dimwit’s Guide to Determining Rough Gray Sides of Puzzle Pieces From the Smooth Colored Sides and That Walking and Chewing Gum Thing”. Anyway, be sure to pull out any side pieces you come across as you monotonously flip all the pieces to color side up.
7. Spend an inordinate amount of time agonizing over whether or not these are side pieces:
8. Vascillate between using the puzzle to find pieces or using the pieces to find where it fits in the puzzle. Study the puzzle. Be the puzzle.
9. Call for pizza as you will have no time to shower or cook your own meals once your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder kicks in and you will not rest until this frickin’ thing is done.
10. Realize that you have a problem and that you probably shouldn’t be doing puzzles because you find it impossible to step away even though your back hurts from leaning over the table for two solid days only stopping long enough to pee.
11. Bark at your significant other when he snaps in a piece that you’ve been looking for for the last half hour. And have a cow when you finally find the pieces that have been dogging you forever.
12. Throttle your significant other when he signals a touchdown and says “Ta Da!” after each and every piece he successfully fits in because Hello — one thousand pieces.
13. After the 500th “Ta Da!”, curse Dr. Bartholomew Jigsaw (or whoever invented it) and the day he was born. Vow to never participate in such a soul-sucking endeavor again.
14. Crawl into bed with a dizzying weariness and dream of monster crayons chasing you down dark alleys with paint guns blasting you down into a technicolor puddle of death.
15. Get up the next morning, stare at your completed masterpiece and fret over how long you should keep it together before ripping it apart, destroying what you worked so tirelessly and ceaselessly on for so many hours and for what, to tear it apart?
16. Get depressed.
17. Get out of town for awhile. Take the train to Berkeley for a change of pace and celebrate your friend’s birthday. Walk around and shop on Shattuck Avenue, realizing for the first time in a while how important spending time with friends is. It’s really what makes life worth living. Vow that you will make more time for your friends because they are so near and dear to your heart.
18. Come home with this:
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