Chasing the “WOW” . . .
I have spent a good portion of my life in pursuit of an experience I can’t adequately describe. I can only describe the circumstances of my first encounter with this elusive interaction.
It was during a creative writing class in college I first had the “encounter” that would become my life’s obsession.
The class had been given an assignment to describe, in a few hundred words (I think it was 300 hundred words), an inanimate object of given dimensions. I chose an old Smith-Corona portable typewriter. It was a hideous thing; a compact combination of turquoise body with fat, white keys encased in its own turquoise carrying case. My parents got if for me for Christmas one year. I think I was thirteen or thereabouts.
Anyway, back to creative writing class. For the assignment I wrote my description as a “conversation” between myself and the typewriter (one that has, for better or worse, continued through the ensuing years), describing it in skeletal terms; a “death’s-head” smile of grinning, fat, fat white teeth and shock of white paper protruding from the roller; how I sat silently before the thing, waiting for the words to come. I forget now, after all these years, everything I wrote to describe our “conversation”. I do remember struggling with it for some time before I felt it would be acceptable for the assignment. I also remember I was not especially eager to read it in class.
I waited patiently as my classmates read their pieces; each one better, at least to my thinking, than the last. When my turn to read came, I hesitated for a moment or two, then launched into my reading with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. It took less than two minutes to read the piece and when I finished I steeled myself for the inevitable criticisms I felt sure were to come. The class was silent. I guess you could call it a “pregnant pause”. Then from somewhere behind me, a single word, “Wow”. It wasn’t an explosive “WOW!”; more a subdued expression of incredulity. I don’t know who said it. I didn’t turn to look.
I don’t recall the grade I received for the paper, or if a grade was given. The paper has long since disappeared. There is only one thing I remember about that class: that single “Wow!”. I’ve been chasing that “Wow” ever since, trying to capture, or recapture, the feeling of doing, or having done, something special, something no one else could do.
I came close once, several years ago. But that’s a story for another post . . .