Who'd a thunk? I sure didn't the day I took that paper clip to the paint-covered keys of the old upright Olympia typewriter in front of me. I was a high school freshman and the thought of learning how to type -- a required class to boot -- was about the dumbest thing I could imagine.
In my "jesuit preparatory" purgatory there was no shop, art, music or any of the pud stuff the public schoolers had -- we had Typing I. Yeah, not sweet.
But getting back to the paper clip...the typing methodology of the day was to force the aspiring secretary-typist to look at a giant key board illustration at the front of the room. The idea was to learn how to "touch type". So all the machines had painted keys...rows and rows of dumb little keys... just aching to be touched in the right sequence.
Bollix, I thought, if I had to take this class it would be a lot easier if I could just look down and find the keys right in front of me. So I set about with a paper clip, scratching the paint off the keys starting with a, s, d, and f, you know...the big ones. I suppose I felt a little like Andy Dufresne sratching at those keys. The problem was the warden -- Ms. Anne (Wardog) Molander -- was on her game and took action immediately to end mine.
I sat for the next two weeks of the typing time slot in the hallway, within two feet of the Principal's Office. It was a great vantage point for all students, most notably the uppperclassmen, to harass and poke fun at me as they walked to their classes.
It was the longest two weeks of my life. But I took my medicine and went back to class -- without my paperclip -- resigned to staring at that damn chart at the front of the room and finishing out the year.
So who'da thunk what? The irony is never lost on me since I have spent a whole career hammering away on typewriters and keyboards of all kinds, churning out words about lots of stuff in lots of different ways, and even languages.
Thanks Ms. Molander. I probably couldn't have done it -- and continue to do it -- without you,