By H.G. Miller
Perhaps one of the greatest things ever invented would be the typewriter.
Followed of course by the word processor, then computer, then Palm Pilot and
then those cool Star Trek headsets that take everything you say and translate
it into horribly boring dialogue and static scenes that even a trained chimp
would be ashamed of. At least, that's what I guess is happening.
Anyway, about the typewriter and all of its spawn. I am very happy for this
invention to have come into my life. You see, I have a condition that would be
called chronically bad handwriting. Ask any teacher I've ever had and they'll
probably tell you something like “I don't know if he was smart or not. It was
just easier to give him a 'B' and move on to a student whose handwriting didn't
resemble the Chinese alphabet.”
Sadly, I still hold my pens and pencils with the same grip that a
three-year-old child uses to maneuver an over-sized crayon across some Britney
Spears “Color My Panties” activity book.
I think it's the result of a complete lack of initiative on my part. Sometime
around the fourth grade, I just stopped caring about penmanship altogether. The
sports superstars of the day were getting contracts near the sum of a million
dollars a year, and I'd seen some of their autographs. They looked horrible. I
figured I could just wing it in the old handwriting department until my natural
talents lifted me above the masses into that echelon of people who have people
that take care of all that writing for them.
Unfortunately, it wasn't until my junior year of high school before I realized
that there are very few five-eleven white boys with arthritic knees who ever
make the big money in sports. I'd also been cut by the basketball team, given
up on baseball, broken my foot in soccer and been laughed at by the football
team. So, I wasn't really getting face time with the scouts, anyway.
By this time, of course, my penmanship had settled into a choppy sort of
hieroglyphic style, where I would draw rudimentary pictures of the objects I
wished to describe, and my superiors would just wrinkle their brows, sigh
heavily, and say, “that's great…”
Thankfully, the state of Kansas has this rule about all high school students
taking a course in typing before they can graduate. As luck would have it, I
wanted to graduate, and thus took the typing class, along with a few math and
phys ed courses that I wasn't so keen on.
It was in typing class that I discovered these machines that allow you to write
in perfectly-legible English without having to resort to the use of a pen and
paper. From this point on, I would try to make millions as a writer, now that
the world could see my other talents in crystal-clear, Times-New-Romanesque
Unfortunately, that hasn't been going so well, either. But, at least I can keep
trying to write while all those smug athlete types have to resort to making
commercials about itch cream and 10-10-whatever long-distance calls.
I do still occasionally run into problems, though. Tonight, for instance, I am
trying to decipher some notes I have written in the margins of a script I am
working on. I have a conversation between a guy and his girlfriend and then a
note reading “explore reltrdip” or something to that effect.
Do I want to explore their relationship further? Do I think she might be
retarded? Is that more interesting? Will making his girlfriend retarded move
the focus of the story away from his initial motivation? Will it make this a
script that the Farrelly Brothers might be interested in?
What in the hell was I thinking?!?!?!