Tuesday, July 17, 2007

True Story...albeit a little off the subject

True Story. I sat next to a one-armed girl in typing class back in the 8th grade. I know it shouldn't have... but it freaked me out and I couldn't ever really concentrate on the teacher's instructions. I forget the girl's name now although our surnames must have been similar (alphabetical seating, and all), but I do recall that she was the fastest typist in the school. That fact was well broadcasted and she received constant praise from the Faculty of Secretarial Curriculum. Thinking back I guess maybe she had two arms but only one hand. I can't say for certain. I tried not to look too closely but I do remember the way she returned the carriage with her left elbow at the end of each line or paragraph.. So yes...two arms, two elbows, one hand. I'm pretty sure.

Ironically, I would later in life lose most of my hair (to absolutely no praise or acclaim) and the majority of sight in one eye (drinking accident), and come to understand how one adapts to such curveballs Fate hurls ones way. Anyway, the result was I became among the worst typists in the grade.--me and everyone else that didn't sign up for the class to begin with, although I wasn't given that choice. As you might suppose, most of the guys who enrolled in Intro To Typing did so because of the obvious high 'girl to boy' ratios in such classes. Mine was just a bad handwriting issue and a mandate from my Guidance Counselor. Typewriters were 'the way of the future,' I was told. I didn't buy it, though. One armed girl or not, I hedged my bets and went in the opposite direction saving up my paper route money for something called a calculator. And even though they were $200 at the time for the simplest model, it was my only hope of getting through four more years of Math. I eventually bought a guitar instead and graduated in the bottom third of the class with all the other smart alecs.

So, I didn't become a rock star because of the hair loss issue (although I understand the drummer of Def Leppard has only one arm and one leg), a pilot because of the bad eye, an architect because of low Math IQ or a writer because of horrible handwriting and equally bad typing skills. And as luck would have it, typewriters were not the 'way of the future,' but computers were, leaving me on the sidelines in about every way imaginable from a career standpoint. Ultimately, I sold Insurance for a living until I was 40.

Add on another 10 years in the Real Estate arena and the mercurial cycle of life completed yet another revolution and landed me back to where I was in 1969--in front of a keyboard with a lot to say and only two fingers with which to say it. At this stage of the life game I would almost gladly give up a hand--or even a hand plus an elbow (no return carriages necessary on a laptop) to be able to spill out a couple hundred volumes of work at a 120WPM. There are not only Real Estate related blog posts floating around this shiny dome of mine, but novels, short stories, essays, and screenplays, as well--or so I imagine as I peck away in earnest trying to complete a sentence before I forget the driving thought. As a result, I am seriously considering enrolling in an adult typing class just to help extract these ideas from my brain to the screen via my fingertips in a speedier manner. It certainly couldn't hurt

I met a one-armed man on a cruise a few years back. Sat next to him in a whirlpool almost everyday on the pool deck as we cruised the Caribbean at Christmas for the umpteenth time each, it turned out---St Maartens, St. Kitts, who cares. Anywhere but the Midwest in December, is my credo. His too.

"Let the wives shop and we'll just get a tan on whatever is left of our aging bodies," my new friend said one morning, including me some way in his own personal quagmire of physical shortcomings. He probably meant the hair, come to think of it, or perhaps it was the slight limp from an old high school football injury that pops up every so often. He sold cars in Detroit. Judging from the gold Rolex on his remaining wrist he seemed to be doing pretty well for himself. I can only hope that my junior high school typing companion found a similar route to success in her life---or at the very least, simple happiness and a decent computer programming career.

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