In winter, John and I know our marriage will be tested. It is cold and dreary, we are bored, and our two bodies are sharing way too much mutual space.
In an effort to keep ourselves from day after day of petty, annoying conversations that mainly focus on the weather, when the mailman is going to be here, and
what to have for supper, I decided to buy a jigsaw puzzle.
I ordered a 1000-piece one—a collage of cereal boxes. When it arrived (from the mailman; we’d been waiting and discussing his route time, as usual), we sat and gazed at it for a while.
“Think we can do it?” John asked.
“We WILL do it,” I replied. We would sit at the table with eyes down and mouths closed and look at cardboard shapes. It would be more interesting than talking.
John volunteered to get all the pieces out. He started immediately; he picked up each piece, stared at the design, and plunked it onto the table.
I watched TV. Every second, I heard the PLUNK of a piece. I turned the TV up.
After about five minutes, John began announcing each piece of the puzzle as he picked it up. He broadcast his discoveries to me.
“Here is part of Honeycomb. I’ll start a pile for it over here. Oh. Cheerios…must be two of those, because the words are two different sizes. We’ll need to look at the box.”
“Okay,” I replied. He was just excited. The chatter would stop soon, I thought.
When the pieces were out, I trudged to the table to begin what John probably thought was a nice bonding activity. I just wanted to sit and assemble.
The plan seemed to work at first. In an hour or so, the border was complete. We’d only spoken a few times. Our eyes were on the puzzle and nobody checked the outside temperature once