Where's the ibuprofen?

David Christy

“Like seeing a photograph of yourself as a child, encountering handwriting that you know was once yours but that now seems only dimly familiar can inspire a confrontation with the mystery of time.” ~ American novelist Francine Prose

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was more than appalled at several states in the upcoming election checking signatures on absentee ballots to see if they matched what they had on record for voters who had registered and signed in to vote.

Are you kidding me?

I haven’t signed my name with the same signature since I learned cursive in the third grade.

My signature is never the same, one minute to the next. I’m one of those people who signs their names way too fast. Oh, I could be a doctor with my signature — of course without the degree in medicine.

Penmanship for me was like the hardest thing I’ve ever had to tackle.

Now, my mom, up until just months before she died at age 87, could write her signature perfectly, beautifully, without a single fault. And it always was spot-on the same — every time. She was 87, and I couldn’t do that since third grade.

What the heck?

I sign my name with big, well-formed capital D and C, and then it deteriorates into a mishmash of halting script and print letters. My last name has a nice, rather sophisticated C and then drops off a cliff into something akin to Zorro signing his name with a pen used as a sword. It’s an adventure whenever I sign my name.

Fortunately, I have been saved in recent years, as the digital age has spared me for all but a few exceptions when I have to sign a check. I embrace not having to sign my name anymore — other than doctors’ forms when I have to go in for a check-up, or when I sign in to vote.

For me, signing my name is a misadventure. I’m being kind.

So, when I prepared my general election absentee ballot a few weeks ago, once again I had to sign my name before our notary public in the business office here at the N&E. Torture — for me and for anyone else that is forced to try and read my signature. I can guarantee the signature on my ballot in no way will resemble what I initially wrote those many years ago when I first registered to vote at age 21. So having my signature scrutinized against what it was decades ago — or even five minutes ago — is laughably ridiculous.

The history of recorded writing is thousands of years old.

It’s believed the Romans first used written forms of correspondence and recording of transactions.

In the 600s A.D., writing consisted of mostly upper-case letters with some lower-case mixed in, and it had what we now call cursive writing with a flow and curve of the letters.

Kind of the same as me today. My writing curves this way and that way, and never the twain shall me, so to speak.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise in Christianity and monasteries, monks that lived in these sometimes secluded fortresses of knowledge dedicated their lives to transcribing Christian texts, and the use of cursive writing can be seen over and over again, but with differing styles.

In the late 8th century, an English monk standardized the use of cursive writing using script from classic Roman characters. The style of writing was called Carolingian Minuscule, and was meant to be functional, legible (uh oh), lower case, with separated words and punctuation.

Another uh oh, as some people on the internet think punctuation is optional. And, of course, their musings make almost no sense at all. In fact, I’ve seen writing on the internet that proves the fact a lot of people in today’s society have no earthly idea how to write anything that resembles coherent English.

I call it Netglish, and I defy anyone — other than the writer — to decipher it.

In the Middle Ages, when the price of paper increased, people wanted to get more words on a page, and writing became denser and more cramped. A more elegant cursive became widely used and italic evolved.

At that time, beautiful handwriting equated to wealth and stature, and by the 1700s, penmanship was taught formally as a craft.

I always wanted to sign my name like John Hancock did on the Declaration of Independence, or like Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Proclamation.

Nope … mine is more like Beethoven, who was notorious for impossible-to-read penmanship.

But bad handwriting also is a sign of high intelligence — it’s said because the pen can’t keep up with the brain.

So ... there you are.

Christy is news editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Visit his column blog at www.tinyurl.com/Column-Blog

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