I have a manual typewriter now. If typewriters had vehicle classifications, this one would be a cast-iron tank. It squats elegantly –if imposingly– on the livingroom desk. It would make a good burglar-killer if I could get that sumbitch hauled up over my head without tipping over backwards. This typewriter was built to outlive my grandkids and maybe even their kids. It is not fucking around with its here-ness.
I hope there is at least one person out there who never gets tired of making ribbons for it while I still have breath in me.
I sat down to write on it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I was unsure of how firm I should be with the keystrokes. What passed as a comfortable action for my fingers felt somehow soft and insubstantial, so after the first couple of words rendered with two hands I poked the keys without mercy, two-fingered and savage.
Oh Lordy, the typos. But I am more adept at keyboarding with two fingers and ten minutes than some people are with ten fingers and two hours, so there’s that. It’s like my favorite drunk says: “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.”
The paper kicked up above the platen and I noticed little stars in it. For a minute, anyway, that’s what my brain thought, “Now there is a brand-new one: You have gone and typed stars onto paper,” then the inner capitalist kicked in and next I thought, “Holy SHIT, am I ever going to be RICH.”
Then sense came in and started stamping out the flames of imagination delirium: It was only the loud bulb of the lamp shoving its way through tiny holes I’d made in the paper with my no-holds-barred two-fingering madness*. There were no stars on my paper. I’d knocked out tiny holes; I was using my typewriter as a paper punch: Cut that shit out.
I unclamped the beginnings of the letter and pulled it off the roller to examine it. It was after three in the morning and I wasn’t about to retype it. I did, however, marvel at the mess I’d made of its backside before rolling it back into the machine, lining it up again as best I could, and finishing it off.
I even remarked on it in the text itself: Holy crap, I’ve made your letter into braille. The recipient will be able to read it into her old age, no matter if time steals her eyes. My overeager indexes outdid themselves. Kind of. I guess.
I’m pretty good at humiliating myself and most of the time I’m comfortable with that state of affairs.
Here I was, though, having sent what I thought was my haphazard braille out across some miles and the recipient said back, “You made lace of the paper.”
I looked at that letter and saw braille. She looked at it and saw lace. Perception is weird like that.
The people that can see the lace are the good stuff of life, and I’m sort of prone to finding them in the oddest ways.
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Is there a non-WASPy way to say, “Hey y’all, I’m in a really great space right now.”? Because I am. My bones holler and fuss. My heart sings to spite them. I am glad for today.
*Google is going to LOVE that sentence