Saturday, July 11, 2009

Handwriting as entertainment

By Pat Remick

Although I am aware that my penmanship may not meet the standard that Catholic schools once were famous for, you’d think the man I live with might be able to figure out my handwriting after nearly three decades together.

After all, I can read his witing and it’s far worse – written left-handed in a slant that makes people dizzy. My kids -- they of the 'Net and texting generation – endured just one year of cursive training so they print if, God forbid, they can’t communicate by computer or text from their phones. This Gang of 3 claims that not only is my handwriting the worst in the house, it also can be a source of entertainment.

In fact, Husband No. 1 gets a weekly chuckle out of pretending he cannot interpret my notations on the grocery list – “What are tamdos wells?” he’ll ask trying to look innocent when clearly (at least to me) I’ve written “taco” shells. “Why do we need hot tomatoes?” he’ll say when we need potatoes. Sometimes he'll return from the grocery store without a critical recipe ingredient because “I couldn’t read your writing.” (Have I mentioned that he also hasn’t figured out that to use a cell phone to call me, he might have to bring it with him?)

Anyway, this written communication problem raised its ugly head again recently on the first day of July when I called him en route to work to ask him to flip the calendar, check the date for No. 2 son’s annual checkup and remind the child to make sure when he went into work that afternoon, to request the time off. A short time later I received this e-mail from Husband No. 1:

"The checkup possibilities are:July 13: "4:45 Pedo/Synod Mo Velly"
July 15: "-Dad"
July 23: "$70we"
July 24-25: "Doud"
July 31: "10:30 anyou"
Any of those look like it?"

Huh? Does my beloved truly believe notations like “$70we” or “anyou” merit being added to the family calendar? It makes me wonder what world he thinks I inhabit that I would need to remember something like “Doud” and “Mo Velly.” It took only one quick look at his e-mail message to figure out the appointment is July 13—“4:45, Pediatrics, Dr. Symonds” -- AND NOT “Pedo/Synod Mo Velly.”

My conclusion from this latest experience is that the man is just not trying hard enough. Maybe "Mo Velly" could do better.

This also has me wondering if difficulty reading someone else's handwriting has affected any of the books published throughout history. What if the person transcribing someone else's story guessed at a word because they had difficulty deciphering the author's penmanship -- and the word was not what the author wrote? I suspect that's happened somewhere along the way -- don't you? Imagine the possibilities....


Joyce said...

Funny post, Pat!

I went to Catholic schools for 12 years, so I can still write neatly most if I take my time. Otherwise I'm probably the only one who could read it.

I worked on a hospital unit years ago, and for a police department for ten years, so I can pretty much read anything. Doctors and cops write the same way.

Joyce said...

Maybe my writing is better than my typing. Cut the word "most" in that first sentence!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Maybe writers are like handwriting is completely unreadable, too!

My kids' schools have spent a LOT more time teaching keyboarding than cursive....

Mystery Writing is Murder

queenofmean said...

I did the 12 years of Catholic school, too. Like you, Joyce, most of the time, my writing is pretty legible, but on occasion even I have trouble reading it.
I have worked with a doctor for about 10 years & I can pretty much read anything he writes now. I find it amusing when someone requests his handwritten notes. It's taken me 10 years to catch all his abbreviations & how he forms letters. They have no hope of reading what the notes say.

Dana King said...

I once had to hurriedly transcribe a list of household items my parents had saved for me from my late aunt's possessions. When going over the list a few days later, neither my Beloved Spousal Equivalent or I could make out one item. "Tucker Hole" was the best we could do. It was a pleasant surprise when he opened the box and found the tea kettle.

There's an old joke that relates to your misinterpretation fears. A monk finds one of hes peers face down over a book he is transcribing, in tears.

"What's wrong?" the first monk says.

"We've been copying it wrong all these years! It's not 'celibate;' it's celebrate!"

Pat said...

Especially love the celebrate/celibate joke!

I don't want to admit it, but today I actually had to stare at one of my own grocery list entries for quite some time before I could decipher it.... it was as if it was written by a stranger.....