Earlier today, I was filling out some forms for the pest management contractor at my building. When I handed him back the forms, he looked at amazement at what he was seeing, not necessarily what he was reading. He mentioned that my handwriting was the most amazing thing he’d seen this week. That’s saying a lot since he was clearly an Alabama football fan and they were victorious in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game this past Monday night. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: my penmanship.
How I first came across this moment? I get asked a lot about my unique penmanship. Many people think that I’m some kind of an architect or that I took years of calligraphy classes because of it. The truth of the matter is that it all stemmed from an unfortunate accident. On the first day of summer vacation in 1994, my sister accidentally slammed my writing hand in the car door. It hurt like hell and I ended up breaking like 20 bones in my hand. When everything healed up about 3 months later, as I was entering 4th grade, I had a new penmanship. It immediately drew attention.
What it meant to me then? Initially, I was kinda embarrassed by it. It definitely made me different. But I eventually got used to it. In time, my unique penmanship became my own trademark. I had a slight issue in 3rd grade with my homework getting stolen but that was a thing of the past from 4th grade onwards. It forced people to read what I wrote, which bolstered my reputation as a talented writer. It also scored me opportunities I probably would have never got…like the job at Domino’s Pizza. It was definitely a gift in some respects but also a curse in others. From 4th grade on, I could never write a girl a letter and expect to remain anonymous. In fact, it was the entire reason why my exit from Birmingham’s Parker High played the way it did. I also had to contend with my penmanship being slimmer than most, which meant that a normal 1-page paper for my classmates would be a half-page or maybe ¾ page for me. I had to extend my vocabulary through the use of fluff words.
What it means to me now? Looking back on it, almost 22 years later, I’m blessed by the accident. As I wrote, it’s a gift and a curse but I’ll always see it as more gift than curse. If anything, my penmanship has provided me with the ultimate icebreaker.