“I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.” ― David Gerrold
I bought a typewriter this weekend. The woman I purchased it from was selling 7 different models on craigslist. When I came in contact with her, the first thing I asked was, “if you are selling seven typewriters you must have more than that – you can’t be getting rid of them all, right?” Turns out, she has 71 of them. The thought of even putting 71 typewriters in my closet-sized apartment gives me anxiety. How on earth does a collection get so large – especially with some desktop machines being behemoths? I was blown away.
This Friday wasn’t the first time I ever used a typewriter, but definitely was the first time since I was young. The sound it makes when smashing the keys – the ping of the bell at the end of each line – and the rapping of the carriage as the page rolls into position; every noise the machine makes brings pleasure to my ears. Writing on a computer is dry and quick to strain the eyes. There’s no risk involved in screwing up, and the sounds, dull and monotonous. Typewriters bring life to putting words on paper, adding flavor to text where little existed.
For the moment, I honestly have nothing to write on. There’s as little paper in this basement studio as there is sunlight. In the two days I have had this machine, I have taken to typing short quotes on the back of business cards – that’s all I’ve got. Even when I get around to buying some sturdy stationery I haven’t the slightest idea what I have to say; I’m just excited to sit at my high table on the wobbly stool and smash keys until a page is full, and do it again and again until I run out of words, and then start over.
According to David Gerrold, typewriters are dangerous weapons, and according to me, I’m a fool. I cannot wait to sit with my new (old) machine and do some damage. The first order of business is naming it, but that can’t be rushed. I need to spend a little time learning its quirks and which keys don’t move right before a name can come to me. Whatever the identity of this new friend, I’m excited to go on many adventures with it.
Who knows – maybe I’ll start drafting these posts on it, or pick up poetry, or maybe just get better at keeping in touch with friends – who doesn’t love a nice letter? If one of the billions of people reading this likes the post below – I will send you a thoughtful thank you note.