Monday, December 1, 2014

I'm Not Puzzled

Recently I discovered an online jigsaw puzzle website which is packed full of automotive puzzles. As I'm a car guy (mom and dad met each other while working at Chrysler, thank you), I welcomed the escape from boredom which bordered on the surreal.

Every kind of car is on the site. Talbots, Saab Sonnets, and even Chevies (sorry for the profanity) are featured on the site in all of their high-octane glory.

That's why I've become miffed. You see, I'm obsessive-compulsive about things like puzzles. It would be no small understatement to describe my resilience when it comes to completing jigsaw puzzles in one sitting.

Don't get me wrong. That polite little forty-eight piece job was a wonderful break from the usual ennui. That's why I was left feeling kind of empty approximately four minutes and thirty-eight seconds later, when the Vega masterpiece was completed. What does one do when facing such dynamics as OCD and an overwhelming desire to escape the painfully mundane?

That's exactly right. One delves into a five-hundred piece puzzle of Richard Petty and his '74 Dodge Charger, doesn't one?

Now, I don't know about you, but when I build a puzzle, I always start by assembling the edges. It becomes easier when one sees where the grass, beer cans, and chicken bones go. And really, was there ever any question regarding the placement of that two foot long STP decal? The eighty-thousand or so fans perched behind the world famous driver and his neon grin were a bit more difficult to figure out; apparently Thelma was the one wearing the flannel shirt on that chilly February afternoon at the speedway.

Race cars are a huge favorite among we automotive puzzle-solvers, but sometimes one needs a breath of fresh air. And that's where street gassers come into play. For those who don't quite know what a "street gasser" is, it's simply a replica of a mid-sixties gasser drag racer, identified mainly by a truck or van front axle and a high-altitude front end. It was speculated, back in the days of the Polaroid instant photos and first-run showings of "My Favorite Martian", that raising the front of the car would lead to improved weight transfer, and thus improved traction. Turns out that it led to nosebleeds and the need for step ladders. Still, the automotive genre remains popular, with a large number of car parts companies supplying the components necessary to transfer your vehicle into visceral terror on wheels.

It would be remiss not to mention the puzzles of exotic cars and their powertrains. In particular, the six-hundred fifty-two piece copy of a Lamborghini engine had me worried about my plans for the fast-approaching evening one day last week. The worst part wasn't feeling an overwhelming compulsion to complete it. It was having to enlarge the screen so I'd have enough room for all of the pieces. That, of course, meant that I'd have to struggle in order to see the pieces clearly enough to build the dumb thing. Exercise and bill payments were delayed as I struggled, valiantly, to ascertain which was the spark plug wire for cylinder number seven.

In all, I love the website. I have to steer clear of it sometimes, though (pun, sorry). The addiction to building cars which I'll never be able to afford provides me with a good bit of satisfaction. And that's okay. I can leave the cars in a full state of assembly while I traipse out to the kitchen for a Weight Watcher's spaghetti dinner, lovingly microwaved for my dining pleasure.

Doesn't puzzle me a bit.


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