I'm not sure when I picked up the bug - for the glamour of writing in general (I'm so-so) or the allure of a clunky old typewriter specifically (the buying of which I can control into perfection). I guess I could start at last Friday, after the dentist, before lunch at that place in the old neighborhood with the good bean soup. We were on Clark Street in Andersonville in a shop next to the only place to buy a lotto ticket for five blocks. They usually have wire roosters and old timey baby carriages medium-rich people might use as garden props. It's hard to take kids in there. Everything's depression glass or otherwise valuable. Besides, no one likes kids in the city. They're tolerated on a case-by-case basis, but not in droves, not in antique shops with their siblings and a heavily pregnant mom hiding her white trash roots under highlights from a spa located in a gym. (That's me.)
For the first time in ten years or so, I saw a typewriter. Just out of nowhere, right there! It wasn't even old. Over the course of the next few days I would become a typewriter snob, of course, demanding glass keys and a working ribbon on a model made no later than 1940. When real writers were writing. The age of Aldous Huxley and John Steinbeck. But right there in Roost that day, it was the perfect one. I wanted it. I needed a real typewriter like the Greats so I could be a real, really real writer. Maybe I'd outfit myself with cigarette accoutrements and get back to those memoirs.
Is it memoir fodder that makes a writer? Or is it knowing how to let the steam slip out out to make the most noise? You can't really just vomit up your life experiences like a robot. You can't make a TV Guide list out of it: Born In Indiana, Took A Cab To My Piano Recital, The Time My Stuff Got Thrown In The Lawn, Trapped At A Biblical College On Scholarship, How to Make Out With Your Boss (as told in Bitstrips!). You need to trickle those things out, over time. Maybe one day I'll get there and meanwhile, typewriter.
I need proverbial ruby slippers. If you're a throughly authentic individual, the hero of your own life with all your holes plugged and stories straight, then good for you. I'm sure you're already flying off the shelves at Barnes & Noble. For the rest of us, for me, for the writers who struggle if we're really writers, the ones who slay dragons every day who whisper in our ears that we're fakers, we need a crutch. For me, it's the perfect typewriter. Imposing. Instrumental. Mysterious. Rare. (Pretentious.)
I wonder what's the wonder ingredient for other crafts? What's the crutch device of knitting?
In my romantic fantasy, my husband noticed me lusting over the typewriter in the antique store. He thinks I'm a real writer and falls down his own rabbit hole of typewriter snobbery and scours the midwest for the perfect model to surprise me. Maybe he wallpapers the secret den in the basement with red and pink velvet and installs a comfortable fainting couch and hires a nanny so that I may concentrate on My Craft. In the actual universe, my husband is like any other husband and needs links to good typewriters emailed to him with the subject line, This would be nice to have! He regards my writing just like my sewing, just like my baking. A cute pastime, sure, but proper anniversary gifts are things like tiny crystal flowers. Not ugly, outdated crap you find in resale shops. (He is WRONG.)
So I turned where anyone turns for marital bliss and inner validation. EBay. Presenting, the pivotal crutch! Now, if I could just learn a few ten-dollar words I'll be in business.
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