Because I Laughed At A Typewritter Ribbon Joke Last Night

Being unemployed means a fair amount of dead time exists between the hours of 9PM and 6AM. To fill those hours, I’ve been watching a lot of things on Netflix. So much in fact, that I’m running out of things to watch.* I’m actually looking into the recommendations the site keeps pushing on me to view, and it’s been about fifty-fifty in terms of like/dislike.

The Jack Benny Show has been popping up lately, and I think it’s due to the fact that I just finished a documentary on Johnny Carson. The first scene is with Jack Benny and Rochester going over a draft of Jack’s biography:
JB: Let’s see what you’ve got that’s written already, huh? Oh, for Heaven’s sake. Rochester, look at the way you’re typing. Some of the words are so light, I can hardly read ’em!
R: Boss, I’ve been asking for two years to buy a new ribbon!
JB: Why should I buy a new ribbon?
R: Because pulling the old one out and dipping it in grape juice is ridiculous!


I laughed at that. Because I think I’m one of the few people of my age group who grew up on the typewriter.

That’s right, hipsters. Yours truly grew up using a TYPEWRITER. While my friends had word processors or a Macintosh computer, I prepared sheets of typewriter paper with margins and clacked my way through about five pages on the life and times of some historic figure. If I wanted to make text pop, I typed out the word, retyped it (to make the ink darker), and adjusted the roller a notch so I could underscore it. And I always had to reuse ribbon (thankfully never to the point of having to re-ink the thing).

Don’t even get me started about formatting the whole thing. One tiny mistake and I’d have to start the whole page over.

I felt incredibly awkward coming in to class with my one sized font while the other kids had different fonts, sizes, and styles. Eventually my parents got tired of having to listen to me type away into the wee hours of the night and invested in our first computer when I started high school. It took fourteen years for me to catch up with the rest of the world.

Unfortunately I didn’t come out unscathed. Having been trained on a real typewriter, I am the current day nightmare for editors in regards to formatting. It took me a long time to stop indenting paragraphs with five spaces before I discovered the tab button. I hit space twice after a period (it’s taking me forever to type this post trying to break the habit). I detest the automatic setting of ten-point font when hitting enter to start a new line on Word. But I’m slowly adjusting.

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