07 June, 2004

Consider This

...it's a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon...mmmmmmm....

Why I Didn't Learn To Type In 1983

Two words: IBM Selectric.

Anyone remember those? Anybody own one? Not me. Couldn't stand them. Turn it on, see, and it makes this NOISE.

Vrrrrrrvvvrrrrr, vrrrrrvvvrrrrrrr.

It shakes the desk with its huge vibrato self, so that any little item on your desk, say, gods forbid, a PLASTIC BALL POINT PEN so those items also rattle against the plastic laminate of the desk, adding their voices to the vibrato thrum.

Vrrrrvvvrrrrrrr, vrrrrrrvvvrrrrrrr tatatatatatatatatatatatatatat, clikitclikitclikitclikit.

This is all before you've touched any key but ON. Now, touch a key to type a letter. Just one. Go ahead.


Listen carefully, and you can hear the sound also of the key striking and pulling away from the paper.


Okay, so one key strike equals:

Ka-POW!smick,thwap.(Vrrrrrvvvvrrrrrr, vrrrrrvvvrrrrr tatatatatatatatatata clikitclikitclikitclikit)

If you'd like to type something more than one letter, say, your name, address, or a whole memo, you will need to hit the Return key after you- what? Yes, hear the bell at the end of the line. The carriage will return and the cylinder will turn, and there are distinct noises for those, as well. A review.

Vrrrrrvrrrrr, vrrrrvvvrrrrr, vrrrrrrrrrrvvvvrrrrrrrrr, tatatatatatatatatata clikitclikitclikitclikitclikit, ka-POWsmick,thwap, ka-POWsmick,thwap, ka-POWsmick, thwap, ka-POWsmick-thwap DING! zzzzhhhhwwwwhump, thunk. (vvvvvrrrrrvvvrrrrrvvvvvrrrrrrvvvrrrr, tatatatatatatatatata) Ka-POWsmick, thwap, Ka-POWsmick, thwap....

And when the Ka-POWs blend into one huge band of sound, then you can make out the sound of your fingers against the keys.

Tak, tak, takity tak takity takity takity tak tak tak takity tak tak tak tak takity takitytaktak takity tak tak takity tak tak tak tak. (Vrrrrrrvrrrrrvrrrrr tatatatatatatatatata, clikitclikitclikit) DING! zzzzzhwwwwhump, thunk.

I'm getting a headache, aren't you?

It's worse than a jet engine, worse than a lawn mower, worse than a vacuum cleaner, worse than a blowdrier. And the cord, which somehow manages to drape itself snakelike across your exposed ankle, pulses with electric power and heat, searing a streak across the strip of skin between sock and trouser leg.

No wonder, then, I didn't learn to type until soft little civilized plastic keyboards came out with polite little tik tik tik noises, and the letters against screen that make NO SOUND AT ALL.

As Asimov said when lacking a typewriter, scratching out a story by hand on hotel stationery, "It's not writing that's noisy. It's the typewriter."

I managed to write (by hand, no laptop in my toolbox yet) some edits on Watergate! the Musical, but what I really did was cut and paste scenes. My "hot" rewrites stand, most of them, and my "cold" rewrites should tighten the thing up. I lubricated my brain to the "what the fuck" point and then made edits as fast as I could, before I could lose that state of caring just enough, that state of far enough detatched. Hemingway starts to make sense. Warning flag, warning flag.

The potential hangover won't deter me. I never get them.

And now, to SpellCheck this monster.


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