How I Learned To Write My Name

          How good is your cursive handwriting? I understand they don’t teach it in school anymore. It’s all keyboarding these days. I wish we’d had that. I’m a very poor typist, but you should see my cursive. My signature is barely legible. And when I have to sign a legal document and spell out my middle name – Christophersen – it's so shaky it looks like some kind of madman or moron wrote it.

          It was fourth-grade. That would be Mrs. Terry’s class. The upper- and lower-case cursive letters of the alphabet were posted in a single line around the room, near the celing, so if you had not so good vision, you were shit out of luck. Each week we’d practice one or two of the letters, both upper- and lower-case. I never knew how my classmates felt about the exercises, whether they sweated them out like I did. I always felt so uncoordinated. We had lined paper, of course, and we were supposed to form the letters not only according to the various lines and curves, but each letter had to fit exactly between lines according to its height. This kind of accuracy made me sweat.

          One day, one of my classmates, I think it might have been Ron, asked what good learning cursive would be to us? It’s a good thing that Mrs. Terry was such a kind and patient teacher. If it were me, I think I’d have gone off on Ron. But not her. She just calmly said, “You will be able to sign your names.”

          And that we did. After we’d worked our way through the alphabet, we started to practice signing our names. Crappily. At least in my case. What really scared me, aside from feeling that I had some kind of learning problem, was that we were going to sign enough times to fill up a whole page, and then we were going to leave it, along with some other select work, on top our desks for parents’ night open house.

          Argh. I could not do it right. I could not fit my letters perfectly according to the lines one the paper, and I could not get the curves of my letters to match the ones around the room. My writing was ugly.

          But kind old Mrs. Terry would just keep praising me for some reason. If it was supposed to be encouragement, it was appreciated, but it didn’t help my writing to get any better.

          As parents’ night approached, I became something close to desperate. This made my writing even worse. The page I produced looked like something a person would do the first time he attempted script.

          The night of parents’ night, I stayed up late waiting for my parents to come home. When they did, they called me out of my bedroom. I was expecting the worst. My dad said nothing, but my mom simply said, “We enjoyed all of your work, but you really need to practice your cursive writing.”

          To this day, my handwriting is a combination of print and script. It works for me, got me through college notetaking. But as I said, signing things like legal documents is a bitch for me. Everytime I have do something like that, I cringe and sweat a little, and I think about those perfect letters posted around my fourth-grade ceiling.

          So anyway, that’s how I learned to write my name in cursive. You too, right?

Mahalo for reading!

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  1. appleblossum says:

    Great piece Lanning! I think perfect cursive is overrated and makes it easier to forge a signature. Long live unique, messy signatures! Plus, those digital monitors you have to sign at the store counter always makes your writing look 10x worse anyway. At least it does mine ;P

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