Raise your hand if you ever took a typing class in high school. One or two hours a week dedicated to tapping keys in a windowless room, all girls except for two boys in the back row. I was of the Hunt and Peck variety, which meant I sacrificed speed by glancing away from the copy to find and press each key individually instead of relying on the memorized position of the keys. I probably took the class because I thought it would have something to do with writing, not transcribing at record speed. Nevertheless, it came in handy in college when I stayed up all night to finish term papers—the ding of the carriage return and clickety-clack not only made good company in the still dormitory, they provided just the right little-engine-that-could motion that kept me on track.
In the early nineties, I upgraded to a portable Brother electric typewriter to write a business plan for a restaurant. At the time, it seemed harebrained—an impossible dream (I was told many times), but once I started pecking, the words nudged each other forward—I think I can, I think I can. And when the lease for L’amie Donia was signed (oddly the space used to be a typewriter repair shop), we shoved a desk into the storage room upstairs and it became my office where I wrote menus with Brother. Downstairs carpenters hammered and drilled booths and bar tops, while I perched in my nest hatching summer dishes for a July opening.
For our first anniversary, my husband gave me a vintage Smith Corona (he’s never been subtle in urging me to write). It has a nice clatter even with neighboring arms jamming when pressed at the same time. In a crazy dream not too long ago, every key I pressed spurted batter instead of ink on the page. With every mistake I was forced to scrape away what looked like buttermilk pancakes off the carriage with a paring knife. I won’t even address the symbolism here, but what a mess! Talk about think before you write.
Brother retired sometime after my sister gave us a bright blue iMac which sat like a spaceship on my desk urging me to hop on board. Well, there was no going back after that, but I miss the bell, the springing forward of words that can’t be deleted, the commitment to staying on track. I love my laptop, but Brother never made it easy for me to walk away, erase, cut and paste, or check email in the middle of a paragraph. And when the day was done, you had something to show for it.