For some reason, I can’t quit thinking about that typewriter. In the dream, my grandmother had told me that anything I found in the shop I could have. The shop was set up in an old house, and there were lots of rooms and nooks and crannies. I was with a man, who I presume was my husband, but didn’t look anything like my husband. When I found the typewriter, sitting on an old school desk, I sat down and touched the keys reverently. I’m pretty sure a beam of sunlight came down and illuminated it, and there might have been a heavenly chorus.
Some of it is easily explainable. In my office, we actually do use a typewriter from time to time to fill out pre-printed forms. We have a decent enough typewriters, but all three of us who ever use it are old school typers and we all agree on the superiority of the IBM Selectric as a typewriter. We keep looking for one at garage sales. I’m pretty sure I will never find a pink one. As far as I know the only options were ‘black’ or ‘putty.’
I remember being a little kid and we had one of those ancient typewriters with the arms that would strike the ribbon to imprint the letters on the paper. The arms got crossed if you typed too quickly. Not that I could type all that quickly back then, but sometimes I would just hit random letters because I liked the sound of it so much. At that time, during the Mesozoic Era, there was no such thing as a home computer, and the only way to make things look neat and professional was to type them. I loved the sound of a typewriter. I loved the ding at the end of the line, and the physical act of returning the carriage to the start position for a new line.
Then came the electric typewriter. You no longer had to physically move the machine to the beginning of a line, and there were no more arms, but rather balls or wheels that imprinted on the ribbon. Some could even remember a few key strokes and delete for you so you didn’t have to use White Out and blow on it so it would dry more quickly and you could get on with your typing, albeit with a crusty spot where the White Out was.
The IBM Selectric, as far as I’m concerned, was the king of these. The keys had a nice feel to them. The ball was easy to interchange so you could actually change fonts! No longer were we stuck with Times New Roman, although to be honest I almost exclusively type in Times New Roman because I like it.
Now, of course, I use a computer to type almost everything. Probably because I wrote several thirty page papers in college and had to retype the entire thing every time I made an edit, I can now type about a hundred words a minute. I am old enough now that most modern ‘improvements’ irritate me. The slimmer the laptop or keyboard, the less likely the keys are to have any heft to them. You can’t always feel the position of the keys. Right now I am typing on an old brontosaurus of a laptop that still runs Windows XP despite the fact that Microsoft no longer supports the 14 year old software and I keep getting warning messages that my computer will self destruct if I don’t upgrade. I have within arms reach a new fancy schmancy convertible laptop with a touch screen, but I use it almost exclusively to play games. I can’t bear typing on the wimpy little keyboard. I am forever accidentally typing things and making weird things happen with the heat of my hands.
I think I like typewriters and keyboards whose keys actually ‘click’ and need a little bit of force to push because I want my words to have some heft and substance to them. It is the same reason that if I am going even further back in time and need to write something on a piece of paper in the random mess of scribbles I call my handwriting, I prefer using a pencil. There’s more drag on the paper. More connection between the writing instrument and the words. Virtual keyboards are for texting and quick emails. Facebook comments. Things that don’t matter.
Bottom line is this: if you happen to see a pink IBM Selectric II typewriter at a garage sale, let me know. I’ll buy it at any price. Even though my grandmother said I could have it for free.