Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Signed, Underwood 565 CR

In my neighborhood there are still places that remember a less complicated technology

I miss her.  We were friends for so many years.  We sat up all night in college, pushing hard to be brilliant – or at least adequate.  I vowed to be there for her 100% and never fail her in her time of need.  For so long she remained faithful to me, too, even though her friends said it was time to look for something fresh.

I never asked for much.  Just a new ribbon once or twice a year.  A little correction tape.  The distinct and smooth tap-tap her fingers produced signaled all was well.  I never got sick on her, never caught a virus that would ruin her plans, and did my best to be a low-maintenance friend.

Together we made poetry.  And we made parodies of Manichean cults in iambic  pentameter.  We explored the history of Irish mythic heroes and produced outlines of all the books of the New Testament.  We expounded on Aristotle and Martin Luther and Hemingway.  We wrote letters and exegeses.  I knew her touch and I knew the pauses when she was thinking.
Forgotten but not gone

When her mom and dad brought us together I had never seen anyone so happy.  “Just what I’ve always wanted!” she exclaimed.  I thought we would be together forever. But one day a plastic box appeared on the desk next to me.  White instead of my sleek, black keys, it seemed rather nondescript except for the small rainbow-colored apple in the lower left corner.

While my three-pronged cord and a single on/off switch made me a breeze to handle, this new machine seemed overly complicated.  Wires out the back.  Wires to keyboards.  Wires to a device on the side she constantly slid across an 8x8 pad.  She always was sticking something in the front slot like bread in a toaster.

Oh, I stayed faithful, sitting on that desk waiting for some attention, eager to create beautiful thoughts together.  Occasionally I addressed an envelope for her.  But I felt her touch less and less.

One day she unplugged me and placed me back in my molded plastic home.  She closed it with a determined “click.”  I haven’t seen daylight since.  But I have hope.  She has carried me from apartment to apartment.  From house to house.  Now I wait, seemingly forgotten in a dusty basement.  I must still mean something to her, though, because I’m still here.  Waiting.
My old friend
If you had one object that could tell a story what would it be and what would the story be about?  Tell its story in the comments box.
Authors Note: This was written in response to the Write On Edge RemembeRED prompt:
Write on Edge: RemembeRED Do objects have a memory? Does a rocking chair hold the essence of the snuggles it has witnessed? Does a pottery mug remember the comforting warmth it offered a struggling soul?
The dictionary defines personification as “the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.”

Now it’s your turn to tell a piece of your story from the point of view of an object who bore witness in 400 words or less.


Lee I said...

Ah, the typewriter memories. You've given me inspiration for a blog, a short tale of my first plane ride, with a typewriter angle! I need a short one, since I'm stalled in the middle of a long techy one.

Gina said...

I remember exactly when my parents gave me mine in college. Man, did I wear out those keys! Type on her! Fantastic reminder for me of a forgotten but valued friend.

Kat Ward said...

I love the amount of pressure you had to put on the old typewrites, before electric; my pinky fingers took a while to bone up!

How you had to change the ribbon and got your hands all dirty. How if you messed up, you were basically scr**ed! The "clack, clack, clack" which was a brilliant sound when you were on a role, but jarringly horrid when you were blocked and your heard them intermittently, sporadically, a reflection of your blank mind!

And, I simply loved the look of them. Divine.

Thanks for rousing the memories.

As an aside: I'm about to turn 50 in April; the other evening our t.v. lost its color; my daughter said to me, "You're used to this, right? You grew up with black and white t.v., right?" Needless to say, I put her in her place—history lesson, here we come!

Asproulla said...

I love the notion of joy in shared creation. So poignant and wistful! But the hope remains... The touches less and less frequent, eventually the click into the lightless box. Well done!

Anonymous said...

ha ha. I went to a thrift store a couple weeks ago and saw a lovely sky blue typewriter that reminded me of the one i had a teen. i actually considered buying it, but then wondered how much trouble i'd have to go through in order to replace the ribbon.

Julie Farrar said...

I loved the clack-clack, too. It carries over for me because I've resisted touch screen phones or any keyboard that doesn't actually have me pressing down on keys.

And I loved the different font balls. In college my classmates and I were bowled over to know that our Greek teacher actually owned a font ball with the Greek alphabet on it! We were in awe of him for that.

Kathleen Basi said...

I typed all kinds of stories on a manual typewriter in my parents' home. Wonder whatever happened to that old dinosaur?

Scrollwork said...

Nicely written, Julie!

I typed my baby thesis in college (early '80s) on my Dad's manual. Left it in the Philippines when I immigrated to California. Got nostalgic about it as we progressed from IBM Selectric to Macbook Pro. Years later at a flea market, I spotted a manual and snapped it up. I decoupaged Old World map wrapping paper on its carrying case, and installed it in my office next to a rotary dial phone. Felt good!

Julie Farrar said...

I also have a manual in the basement, Scrollwork. I think when I do my house renovations and a new office, I'll have a table set up just for my two typewriters.

Anonymous said...

I used a typewriter at school when I was twelve and by the time I went to university and started work they were already being replaced by the computer.
I recently gave an english lesson where we discussed the typewriter, because one of, if not the, last companies in India who makes them has ceased producing them. The end of an era indeed.

Julie Farrar said...

I think the end of the era came even sooner. They no longer teach typing at school to make people truly proficient (speed tests and all that). They just assume that all kids have been pecking on keyboards since a toddler and don't need real instruction on such things as speed and accuracy. Now they can only type with their thumbs.

Sheri L. Swift, Author said...

Oh how I remember mine! It's still sitting on top of my desk glaring at me as I type on my computer! Lol! I typed my first manuscript of my novel on it (Brother Electric). I still have ink cartridges that I haven't used as well as Universal lift off tape! She helped me get through radiation as I typed & retyped. Thanks for sharing! ; )

brenda said...

I love these types of stores. When I was living in the UK, my husband and I were always shopping second hand stores, etc., for Spode China, and found a couple old typewriters and sewing machines, which I love. My son tried using one of the typewriters once and asked me how writer's were able to write books on the old things (his words). He thought it required too much finger pressure to press the keys down. Funny, but I had to agree.

Julie Farrar said...

Ah, but would a well-used one in its prime take as much work as a beat-up one now? I don't remember sore fingers that much myself. Not on my electric one.

monicastangledweb said...

Oh, I wished I'd kept my typewriter. It was so cool because it had the Spanish ñ, and upside down exclamation point. Sigh.

Julie Farrar said...

How cool, Monica. I would like to buy a French keyboard for my computer for when I'm sending e-mails to friends over there so I wouldn't have to always remember the short-cuts for their symbols.

Nichole L. Reber said...

Reminds me of a short story-length poem about the last days of handwriting notes. During grad school the demise of handwriting my stories, poems, or any other narrative seemed imminent. It would soon be replaced by writing directly on the computer.

Well, 10 years later journals are still necessary; though it's my laptop that's now filled with endless drafts on Stickies and in Pages.

Viva the evolution of writing!
Happy writing, my fellow SheWriter.

Nichole L. Reber

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