I know that it’s been a while since I wrote you, 1967 I believe. That year I asked for a typewriter. You brought me a children’s typewriter. It was blue plastic with white keys that certainly built up my finger strength, as each key required extreme force to make an impression or it would leave a blank space. I was reduced to a hunt and peck technique as my seven year-old little fingers were just too wimpy to master anything else. There was no shift key, so everything came out in capital letters. That was long before all caps stood for yelling.
Several years later, you brought the family a real typewriter, one not only fitted with a shift key but with all those extra characters and elements of punctuation which brought an increased elegance to my manuscript. It was also equipped with a two-toned silky ribbon that with a flip of a lever toggled from black to red, perfect for adding that extra bit of contrast. I could now type “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” as a credit (black) or as a debit (red). My fingers were stronger and the percussive action on the keys enabled me to master the Qwerty layout and master the touch typing technique.
In college, you brought an electric typewriter that not only allowed me to increase my speed, but to automatically correct my mistakes. The carriage return was replaced by a return key, and the type bars were now replaced with various font wheels. I could now type keeping style in mind and choose between serifs and no serifs, and Italic and Roman. Even though I never took a typing class in high school (my personal insurance that I would never become someone’s secretary) years of mastering my typing technique landed me a job as a professional typesetter. I paid for my college education and became a home owner by being able to translate words to fingers using style and form that made the words jump off the page.
Even though I was an adult, you made sure I was an early adopter of the personal computer, complete with a keyboard that came with a shift key and caps lock (making it easier to yell for long periods of time), but now offered escape, control and delete keys. The choice of fonts was infinite, and I now could expand the Roman and Italic options with bold, demi-bold, condensed and multiple language characters. Style and elegance were now met with options offering unlimited functionality.
Santa, I am truly thankful for all those marvelous gifts over the years, each featuring innovations that I’m sure made you and your elves very proud. Yet, there always seemed to be something missing. This year I have attempted to be very good with the hope that you will bring me all the absent words, carefully laced with the style and elegance of the past and promising the creativity and originality of the future, complete with assembly instructions.
Running Without Toenails
P.S. The milk and cookies will be waiting for you, as always.