Last week at Tar-jay, I bought a pack of Paper Mate felt tip pens in assorted colors. I’m hopelessly addicted to pens, especially when I can get an array of colors. I also have a fetish for simple, black, spiral-bound journals. The store had its back-to-school stuff on clearance, and I bought two black, spiral-bound tablets with fabric covers and the pack of pens. I was also drooling over a pack of Sharpie fine tip pens in 15 colors. FIFTEEN!
Anyway, whenever I get a pack of colored pens, I like taking the time to see what each color looks like on paper. Usually, I write my name (have to practice for when I finally get published, you know). In following this completely freaky ritual with my new pens, I began thinking about my handwriting.
When I was in middle school, I hated my penmanship. My cursive was small and goofy-looking to me. Of course, the small letters worked to my advantage at times. A friend and I once got in trouble for talking in class, and our punishment was to write our names — first, middle, and last — 100 times. (Where did this practice ever start?)
My entire name (maiden name then, of course) consisted of only 14 letters; however my friend’s name totaled 22. Compounding her problem was the fact that she had large handwriting. So as we sat at our desks, scribbling away, she bemoaned the fact that I could fit all 100 signatures on one piece of paper while she couldn’t fit two columns on a page and had to use two pieces of paper.
In the seventh grade, however, I worked on changing my handwriting by taking forms from other friends’ penmanship — an “e” from someone I went to church with, my “m”s and “n”s from one of my best friends at the time. By eighth grade, my cursive letters were large and round.
I still tweaked lots of letters several different times from eighth grade until college. My capital “I”s were inspired by a greeting card of all things, and unfortunately, I fell into the trend of dotting my “i”s with circles for a couple of years — but I NEVER used hearts or smiley faces.
I always remember Beverly Cleary books when I think about handwriting. I sympathized with Ramona, not having an “i” or “t” in my first name. She was so envious of her sister Beatrice for having both letters — but come on, her name was BEATRICE!
I do have a “t” at the end of my maiden name, and the way I signed it, the letter looked more like a star. I always liked that.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve thought about the name Lucy for our future daughter — after my grandmother. I’ve pondered how one day she will have a capital “L” and a “y” to play around with flourishes, as well as two “i”s to dot and a “t” to cross in her last name — at least until she gets married, which with Cinlach, who knows when that will ever happen.
Then the realization hit me that by the time our future children reach school, will handwriting even matter? I mean, they learn keyboarding earlier and earlier. E-mail has all but replaced snail mail. Text messages are the way to go instead of passing handwritten notes. Everything’s abbreviated.
Instead of signing their names, they’ll probably have to punch the last four numbers of their Social Security number or worse — scan their fingerprints or the RFID chip implanted in their hands. Ugh, it makes me shudder.