Mike Zielinski

Mike Zielinski

Good penmanship once was such a revered art that teachers spoke about it in hushed tones and sprinkled it with incense.

Of course, the emphasis on penmanship has gone the way of the dinosaur, covered wagon and a week without rain.

In this age of texts and emails, nobody really jots down much anymore.

Thank God. Because my handwriting is atrocious. Even I can’t read it.

If I had handwritten the Bible, everybody would be atheists.

The sorry riff-raff I’ve been churning out predated computers by about 50 years, so I can’t blame evolving technology for my pathetic penmanship.

I guess my writing developed lumbago in grade school. The nuns made me stay after school on a frequent basis to practice penmanship, which cut into my ballplaying after school. If it weren’t for those detentions, I’d probably would have made the major leagues

Granted, I wouldn’t have been much good at signing autographs with my handwriting. Nobody would auction off my autographed merchandise.

My signature varies every single time. No matter. Nobody can read any of the versions I craft.

Actually, I’m not trying to be funny when I say my handwriting roams into the realms of fantasy. My fine motor skills must be non-existent. Indeed, I was a train wreck at building model cars — which looked like they were hit by a train.

My abysmal penmanship has ruined my life. You don’t know how many hours I’ve wasted trying to decipher my scrawled notes. It’s a good thing I had a cupcake college major like communications. If I had been a biology major, my notebooks would have been part absurd and part sinister.

However, eons of folks have commented over the years that with my crummy handwriting, I should have been a doctor. After all, have you ever tried to read a prescription? Even pharmacists can’t, which is why the resultant lawsuits have skyrocketed the cost of drugs and healthcare.

They say that ugly handwriting has poor rhythm. If you ever saw me dance, that would be me. They say that folks with coyote-ugly penmanship tend to be emotionally volatile – even bad tempered. Considering that I once challenged a whole roomful of guys to a fight, that would be me.

They also say that people with terrible penmanship are independent thinkers as well as creative. That works for me.

Speaking of work, I have tried to improve the quality of my handwriting by practicing penmanship from time to time. But it’s all been a waste of time. I would have been more productive picking scabs off wayward turtles in Guam.

I tried to invent my own version of shorthand to abridge the monster posing as my tortured script, but I couldn’t read it. Then I thought perhaps my hieroglyphics simply were overcaffeinated. Excited, I switched to decaf. No matter. My penmanship remains wired to this day.

Just the other day I hastily scribbled notes on some voicemail messages. Interrupted by a long lunch, I returned to my notes and found them more indecipherable than an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle. My notes were more up in the air than a trapeze act.

So if you were one of the folks who called and I didn’t return your message, I apologize. Next time text or email me.

I must resign myself to the fact that my penmanship always has and always will be a fool’s errand.

Oh, well. Different strokes for different folks. Did I ever tell you that I can type blindfolded while underwater?

Mike Zielinski, a resident of Berks County, is a columnist, novelist, playwright and screenwriter.

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