Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sloppy Handwriting

If you are one of those readers who believe me to be without fault, you are wrong. (Also, you are in the tiniest possible minority of people... probably a minority of one.)

I hate to burst the fantasyland bubble you apparently have never left for your entire life, but I must shatter your illusion: I do have a fault. One very serious fault: Sloppy Handwriting!

I actually know when it started. In first and second grade, I actually received kudos for my handwriting. Of course, back then, the writing was all in “block” letters: printing, it was called.

But then, along about the third or fourth grade, we were introduced to a concept called “cursive” writing…. and it was all downhill from there.

I really didn’t mind having bad cursive penmanship, because neat, flowing cursive writing always seemed a little girly to me. So I went to the other extreme. And now, all these years later, I find myself with handwriting so bad that even I cannot decipher it.

Normally, I would not bother you by telling you about my clumsy, fat-fingered handwriting. But in this case, my awful penmanship has a direct impact on your life. Here’s how….

Nearly every day, I have new, exciting, creative ideas for my weekly column. Unfortunately, even though I may be long on creativity and excitement, I’m a little short on memory. So quickly I forget those ideas… UNLESS I write them down.

So I DO write them down. Every time I have an idea for my column, I jot a note on a scrap of paper… usually on a Waffle House napkin, on the back of a business card, or on an old envelope which once contained my chance at millions in the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.

I then stuff those scraps of paper into one of my nine pockets (four pants, two jacket outside, two jacket inside, and one shirt), where it stays for a week or two… until its time for laundry. It is then that I unfold those various and assorted gems of wit only to discover, to my utter disappointment, that I cannot read whatever it is that I have written.

When that happens, the scraps usually go into a box or a drawer or a file folder, where they languish forgotten for months, even years, until I come across them and try once more to decipher them.

Sometimes, I miss badly, and end up writing Totally Unintended Columns.

Once, I meant to write a column on “Why I’m a Republican”, and instead published 800 words entitled “Warts on a Rutabaga”.

Another time, my intended topic, I believe, was “I Remember First-Grade Friendships”… but, instead, I accidentally wrote on the topic “I Resemble Fred Flintstone”

It’s all because of Sloppy Handwriting.

This week, I’ve unfurled a few more of those scraps of paper to see if I can guess what I was trying to write. It’s really hard to tell sometimes, because, in addition to Sloppy Handwriting, I also suffer from Fuzzy Headthinking… meaning I could have jotted down just about anything!

This is what I think some of my old notes say:

-- “I miss Saturday morning cartoons”. I’m guessing I got that one right, because I really do miss them. I’ve missed them for about the last forty years. (If you do the math on that, it means that I watched Saturday morning cartoons until I was sixteen!)

-- “How will we know when the recession is over?” Will there be a buzzer? A bell like when school lets out for the day? Maybe a final gun, like at a ball game? Or a checkered flag, like NASCAR!!!

This wasn’t on the crumpled napkin, but I also think it would have been helpful if there had been an alarm of some sort to let us know the recession was coming, like they do for a storm, or a tsunami, or when the river rises.

-- “One dozen eggs, a gallon of milk, loaf of bread, cheerios, scope, toilet tissue (not single ply).” Upon closer inspection, this crumpled scrap of paper probably was not one of my column ideas.

-- “Only 298 more shopping days ‘til my birthday.” Gift idea: pocket tape recorder for making notes, because I can’t read my own handwriting. Scratch that. I also can’t understand most of the things I mumble into a tape recorder.

--“Pick up dry cleaning. Get haircut. Return movies.” Again, the wrong scrap of paper. I hope I remembered to return the movies, because this appears to be a really old scrap of paper.

-- “Belly-button lint.” One of life’s mysteries, to me, is where belly button lint comes from. In fact, I think I could devote an entire column to the wonders of the belly button, and the marvels of the lint therein.

-- “Wearing your pants tucked into your socks”. I remember, as a very small child, being thoroughly confused each morning as I tried to dress myself. Ditto, shirttails. Tucked in, or hanging out? I think I recall confusing the two: tucking the pants into the socks, but letting the shirt hang out.

-- “Muffle lightsocket banana smushy Einstein”. Or at least that’s what it looks like to me.

-- “That’s all, folks!” I wonder if I should start using this slogan to sign off of my column each week, like Porky Pig. Also, I wonder if there’s a way a newspaper column could have a theme song. If so, I would like that Looney Tunes song.

I miss Saturday morning cartoons. And I think it’s starting to affect my work. That, and the sloppy handwriting

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