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