Last week I watched an excellent — if a couple hours too long — two-part HBO special called “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.” It was produced and directed by Judd Apatow, who considered Shandling his mentor.
The show took a deep look at one of the greatest comedic minds of our time by mixing in clips and interviews amid short handwritten musings from Shandling’s diaries. As the handwriting would appear, I was struck by how much pain this guy, like so many comedians went though. I was struck by how insightful he was. And I thought to myself, “Wow, he has really nice handwriting!”
To be fair, everyone has nicer handwriting than I do. Over the years I’ve seen folks put paintbrushes in the trunks of elephants or have monkeys do paintings, and I’m pretty sure their signatures on the works look far better than mine. My signature is just two words, yet you can’t actually read it. You can make out the “C” at the beginning, but after that it’s looks like I passed out shortly after starting the “h” and suffered a concussion long before I got to starting the “J” — although I try to scribble it similarly each time so that it’s semi-official.
I haven’t had a book-signing in years now, but if you attended any of those, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about and might even have asked for a couple bucks off the price just because of the illegible signature.
“This looks like it was signed by an elephant with a paintbrush!” you yelled while waving the book angrily in my face.
“Yeah, well, all of the stories in there were written by a monkey, so consider it an upgrade!” I likely responded.
With my handwriting, “The Zen Diaries of Chris Johnson” likely won’t play nearly as well on HBO because you won’t be able to actually read anything in them. In fact, it’ll more likely appear on ESPN2 because it’s mostly collections of football plays or perhaps on HGTV because there also are mini-house plans for the tiny house I’m going to build on my private island someday. Someday, as in when I have a private island.
Of course, all these football plays and house plans don’t comprise an actual diary. They’re really just to make me look like I’m painstakingly taking notes during the three most inefficient words in the American lexicon — “Regularly Scheduled Meeting.” I would take actual handwritten notes during the meeting, but I can barely read my own writing. Instead, I have to interpret the doodles later:
“Hmm, based upon this brutal corner blitz I’ve drawn up, I’m gonna guess my idea of putting a margarita machine in the employee break room didn’t go over very well.”
I truly hate my handwriting and wish it were better. Folks have made fun of it my entire life, but I can’t improve it. It’s like the way folks have slammed me all of my days for not liking onions as if it’s some sort of intentional character flaw. I simply can’t help it. I wish I could.
I’m not sure why I don’t like onions, but I do know full well why I have terrible handwriting: I had a very pretty teacher in third grade who tried to teach us cursive. My cursive skills never quite took hold, although my cursing skills improved every year, growing particularly effective when driving on the streets of Columbus.
Thank goodness for the typewriters, word processors and computers that have allowed me to express myself through words. Although, I doubt I type correctly, either. Anyone who’s worked near me can tell you the sounds of my typing are like loud machine-gun fire. I like to let the computer know who’s boss. It’s the only time I really have that title.
And while my handwriting may never be as nice as Garry Shandling’s or even that of an elephant with a paintbrush, I can out-type a pachyderm any day of the week.