Bad handwriting won't stop love for Letter People

Sunday, January 13, 2002

When it comes to penmanship, I flunk.

I cross my T's and dot my I's, but they still look like hieroglyphics even to my closest friends.

My 9-year-old daughter, Becca, routinely criticizes my handwriting. She can't believe I made it through school without better penmanship.

Of course, I'm not alone when it comes to poor handwriting. It's just that I never pursued a career in medicine.

I've never seen a doctor with good penmanship.

Pharmacists go to school just to learn how to read bad handwriting so they can decipher those scribbled prescriptions you get at the doctor's office. The pharmacist then types out the prescription so you can read the label without going blind or having to guess how many times a day you are supposed to take the medicine.

All things considered, it helps to have good handwriting unless you're trying to scrape by on an essay test.

Even bank robbers should mind their P's and Q's.

A bank robber's badly written note sabotaged his robbery attempt in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., suburb recently.

The teller couldn't read the note or understand the robber's mix of Spanish and English. The robber left the bank empty-handed.

Ten minutes later, he robbed another bank. This time, he did so with a more legible note and got away with some cash, The Associated Press reported.

Of course, the AP isn't dumb. It didn't scribble the news to its member papers. It sent them the news via computer.

Likewise, I depend on a computer keyboard to make my words legible.

I do scribble notes in my reporter's notebooks, but that's no problem. I can read my chicken scratchings even if my children can't.

Thankfully, the computer age has left us the ability to leave legible messages without having to depend on shaky handwriting. The computer even checks our spelling.

Still, penmanship does count.

If you're trying to write a romantic note to your wife, you want her to be able to read it and not have to hire a handwriting expert to search for clues that this note was indeed written by you.

Of course, none of this matters to St. Louis Rams' fans who have their minds on playoffs not penmanship.

Joni and I spent last Sunday cheering on our favorite football team from inside the Dome, courtesy of tickets from my brother-in-law.

Joni got the tickets for her birthday, which was in November. But we used them to celebrate my birthday which, even with my bad penmanship, occurred over the weekend.

Fortunately, I didn't need good handwriting to cheer on the team. Loud vocal cords and clapping hands were the order of the day in the Dome.

A few fans brought along signs. But from what I could tell, they were all legible and easily readable to everyone except those fans who drank too much beer.

I avoided the sign form of communication entirely. I know better than to pen a sign that 66,000 people couldn't read. Would could be worse? They might mistake me for a Falcons' fan.

Becca would have been thoroughly embarrassed by such a sign even though she wasn't at the game.

Bailey wasn't at the game either. But she wouldn't have minded. At age 6, our youngest daughter is still learning how to write her letters.

As such, she's not as picky about bad handwriting although she loves Mrs. E who exercises and Mr. M with his munchy mouth and all the other Letter People that frequent her kindergarten class.

I do too even if I don't do them justice.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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