I have terrible handwriting. This doubtless follows from various moral failings, but it is literally true that I was never properly taught cursive handwriting: I was promoted out of 2nd grade, when they were first starting to teach it, and then my 3rd grade teacher tried to make me switch to right-handedness. (I went to elementary school in the 1920s.)
It’s not *wholly* inaccurate to say that, while I reverse fewer letters than he does, my five-year old’s handwriting is probably more consistently legible than mine. Jerk.
(True story: It is, or was, customary at debate tournaments to write your names on the board at the start of a round, for the benefit of the judge. Once, at a tournament at West Point, a tournament where I won a speaking award, I had chalkboard duty in an early round. When the judge, who happened to be on the faculty there, walked in, it became clear he was having trouble reading my writing. I nervously laughed and apologized for the bad penmanship. His answer: “No, your writing’s ok . . . but I think you need to press harder on the chalk. It’s ok to use your muscles!” There’s nothing quite like being told to man up right before a college debate round.)
This doesn’t come up a lot every day, at least not since I switched to electronic formats for virtually all assignments. But yesterday, while chairing a committee meeting, I had to provide the group with possible language for a faculty senate resolution. There was a whiteboard in the room, so I scrawled out the wording.
Jaws dropped as the various professors around the table squinted and leaned forward to try to decipher my malformed, crowded letters. After a fair amount of bantering, one of the professors insisted that she had no problem reading what I’d written. “Of course,” she added after the table quieted, “I work with LD kids all the time.”
Note to self: Make sure the data projector is turned on in all future meeting rooms, so that I can TYPE in front of the committee. *Sigh.*