Thursday, February 14, 2008

Manual typewriter music

Walking through Rockridge, I heard the lovely tap tap of a manual typewriter. A portable manual typewriter. They have a softer sound than a nonportable. It did not strike me immediately that this nondigitized, nonplastic tap tap is not a sound one hears nowadays. It sent me back, viscerally, or manually, to the specific sensation, kinetics, smell, sound, of having my own portable manual. It made me want to buy one just to have it again.

I wondered what the people who have never had to write 30-page papers on a typewriter thought of this sound. I take it for granted, the way they take things like wireless connectivity for granted.

The guy was selling poems outside of Pegasus Books. As I shopped inside I could still hear him typing away. It was like music. When I walked out, I commented on the lovely sound. I had a dollar in my pocket that wasn't mine -- it was found -- and I had decided already to give it away to a stranger. Here was my stranger.

He offered to write me a poem and asked me for a topic. While I mulled over this, he pointed out that many people were walking by with pillows and considered it was perhaps some weird California College for the Arts thing. "Maybe they're having some sort of sleep-in for Valentine's Day," I said. Aha, he shouted. It was for the pillow fight in San Francisco. He packed up his typewriter in an instant. "Do you want one of the poems I already wrote?" he asked, riffling through the scraps of paper he had been writing poems on. Someone shouted for him to hurry, it was almost 6:00, almost time for the pillow fight. "Do you want my best one? It's about this person who had balloons. Here, take it, and just email it to me, it's my best one."

I gave him the dollar, telling him I wanted to make sure he could call himself a professional writer. We exchanged names; his is Zach.

I didn't want to retype his text into an email -- it's so different to see it with the formatting and the dropped a's. So I scanned it and emailed it to him. And here it is.


Kathleen said...

the poem and story are just so cool!

Lisa F. said...

It definitely was a "this is what blogs are made for" kind of story.