Yeah, I know the internet rules the world. I’m no dummy.
But there are some things the internet will never replace. Things like: biscuits, the love of a good dog, hugs from your mother, and приклад.
Let me explain:
Right now, I am writing you from a typewriter. It is a Lettera 32. It is old, ugly, and Staph-Infection Green. The thing once sat atop my childhood desk. My mother gave it to me.
Long ago, I used to write tales of the high seas, spy stories, and Westerns. I wanted to become a writer back then. But time moves you forward and you end up becoming things you never thought you would.
I don’t know what I became.
Anyway, in our digital world, it’s not easy writing on a typewriter. For one thing, there’s the problem of getting all these inky words into a computer. It’s a real pain
First you have to scan each page of paper—unless you want to retype all your words.
Then, you have to wait fifteen minutes for your computer to translate typeface into digital text. The software, which was manufactured in a third-world sweatshop, is crummy.
Civilized man can put a fella on the moon, but we are stuck with software that translates the simplest icon within the history of human language, “I,” into “приклад.”
Thusly, wherever the word “I” has appeared in this column, it is because I have physically removed “приклад” and replaced it with “I.”
In spite of the aforementioned, this is a small price to pay for recapturing childhood.
Pressing these keys makes me feel light years younger. Furthermore, there is no internet to distract me, no bright screen, no email alerts involving the prince of Nigeria, no pop-up ads advertising reverse mortgages, no updates on the best-dressed at the Oscars.
This Seafoam Green, non-electric machine takes me back in time.
When I was a boy, I remember writing one particular story on this typewriter. It was a book report about the Three Musketeers. I gave it to my fifth-grade teacher. She didn’t care for my creative liberties.
Namely, she didn’t approve of my fourth musketeer, named Le Séan. She also disliked the harem of scandalous females who were always throwing themselves at Le Séan, sometimes even jumping out of plate glass windows or into interstate traffic.
I stressed to my teacher that this dashing Musketeer was IN NO WAY related to me. It was merely a coincidence that our names were similar.
The woman sentenced me to walk the yellow lines of the school parking lot for ten recesses in a row.
So anyway, here I am writing like a kid again. This is one of those rare moments in life when I’m truly feeling the same things I once felt as a boy.
Certainly, the keys don’t depress as easily as an Apple keyboard, and I spend more time being annoyed than anything.
I still get ticked off when the keys stick and the paper jams. And when the ink ribbon quits turning and I realize my last paragraphs are nothing but invisible braille, I begin to lose my religion.
How many things do I still own from the old days? The answer is: not many.
I wish I had more items from my past. I wish I had my late father’s green F-100 truck. I wish I could find the old Hank Williams records he gave me before he died.
I wish I had the wooden toy my mother won for me at the county fair, or the cap guns I used to play with.
I’d give anything to have my father’s old baseball glove—I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for losing it.
I wish I could remember my father’s face. The more I try to remember him, the fuzzier his features become.
But you ought to feel these keys. They bring back the world to me. Old Westerns, tales of the high seas, and an imaginary fourth musketeer who was raised as a fundamentalist evangelical.
With this thing, I have traveled the entire world, and swung from the masts of square-rigged ships.
Once, I typed four hundred recipes for the Baptist Women’s Bible Study Cookbook. They paid me a measly four bucks. I want you to get that: the Baptist women’s bible study could not even spring for a five-dollar bill.
I know I’m getting sentimental. Forgive me. But with this old machine, I once wrote love notes to the woman who would one day become my wife. I didn’t use the internet back then. I still wrote notes on paper.
With this typewriter, I typed term papers that got me through community college. I typed a few resumes for jobs I would never be considered for.
And with this thing, I wrote some of my first columns. Words that would change my life. And with it, I am writing you.
There are some things the internet will never replace. Like holding hands, kisses from a child, slow moving trains. And typewriters.