on key

For the past I-don’t-know-how-many-years, it seemed to me that my typing skills were steadily deteriorating, and I was sure it was a sign that I was slowly succumbing to old age or some dread neurological disease.

Then, about a month ago, I hauled one of my manual typewriters out of storage because the plumbing emergency that made it rain in our basement also soaked the IBM Selectric I normally use when I type up this drivel, so it was in the shop getting repaired. I’ve intended to take that Selectric in for a cleaning and a tune-up ever since I found it at Goodwill and bought it for three dollars, but have put it off year after year because I’m extremely good at putting things off. If I could get pregnant, I’m pretty sure I could put off giving birth until my fifth trimester. But when water came pouring down from a heating vent that was directly over the Selectric, I knew I had no choice but to take it in for service, and if I put it off, the insurance company wouldn’t reimburse me. So there was one tiny silver lining to an otherwise awful moment.

For the purposes of daily journaling, then, I grabbed a Smith-Corona manual that appears to have been made in the 60s or 70s that I found at a garage sale about ten years ago. It’s not a bad little typewriter, really, just a little noisy but very durable and easy to use. The action forces me to concentrate on punching every key so it prints evenly, and that’s how I discovered that I’m not a bad typist after all. I typed out several error-free pages, and on most pages I averaged two or three errors. Full disclosure: I still type out pages that are complete train wrecks, with lots of typeovers and exed-out words, but they’re the exception. When I type on a computer keyboard, however, or on the Selectric (which has the light touch of a computer keyboard with no feedback), it’s not unusual at all for me to muff at least every third or fourth word. The backspace key is without question the most-used key on every laptop in the house and at work.

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