Walking the Cat . . .

Because life's kinda like that . . .

Chasing the “WOW” . . .

with 4 comments

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 . . .


Written by stevewthomas

February 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Your story reminded me of a Smith-Corona my father purchased for me at a yard sale. It was black and stately. I even gave it… her… a name, which I’ve since forgotten. I actually did a good deal of writing on her, most of which has passed away.

    Thanks for the memory.


    February 13, 2013 at 10:36 pm

  2. LIkewise, I did quite a bit of writing on my “death’s-head” typewriter as well. . .Pity I haven’t one now. I much prefer my old Smith-Corona to a computer typepad. . .Thanks for stopping by. . .


    February 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm

  3. My mum bought me a small beige portable when I entered Teacher’s College. In these days students handed in assignments hand written. My handwriting was OK but I remember a particular high school teacher saying that anything that made it easier for the examiner to read your paper would help you with the final mark.
    I spent very little time studying and a lot of time having a good time, so I needed all the help I could get. So, despite my lousy spelling the type written pages went down very well with the lecturers and I made it through.
    When I was put in charge of my first classroom (primary school) I used that same typewriter as a motivating tool to encourage the many students who were struggling with reading and writing. It worked like an absolute charm and before long I had students writing stories that went on for pages where previously they would barely write a few lines. My school principal was so impressed by the effect on the ‘strugglers’ that she bought a heap of second hand typewriters and put one in each classroom. This all happened more than forty years ago but I still have that little portable. A lot of things have had to go in that time but I cannot bring myself to throw it out.


    February 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm

  4. I would still have that old turquiose “monstrosity”, too, if I hadn’t destroyed it in a “fit of pique”. . .since then I’ve gone through two electrics, a Brother “word processor” and three laptop computers . . .I still miss the feeling of that old Smith-Corona . . .somehow it managed to make the writing more “real”. Thanks for “liking” and commenting. . .It really means a lot. . .Also, thanks for sharing the memory . .


    February 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm

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