Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Learning to write
A perplexed friend asked me, "I want to write, but I can't do it. Is there something I must know first to be able to write?"
"0f course!" I said, surprised that he did not know the obvious answer. "The first ingredients in writing are the alphabets; you know, the 26 letters: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz." Then my memory, always eager for time travel, returned to the day when I was taught the peculiarity of the alphabets. (Later, my teacher, after she was released from the asylum, said she learned a lot, too.)
"Now, William," she said, holding a flash card with a big, black letter on it. "This is the small letter l; and this (another flash card shuffled up) is the capital L. Now what is this letter?" She plucked a card from the pack, flashing a b.
"An l with a big tummy?" I said, surprised at the way her faced turned from pink to light indigo.
"That," she hissed, "is a b! Now you know what a b is."
"Yes, ma'am, a lot of them pollinate flowers."
"Never mind. And what do you make of this?" It must be a peculiar day, because she picked the same letter, but facing the other way -- d.
"A leftward b?"
"No. Try again." The way she steamrollered the last word so heavily and so blunt, I imagined the word breaking into little pieces and falling to the floor.
Looking at the floor, I tried to appease her with the best answer that came to mind. "A small l with a big butt, like Nikki Minaj's?" Teacher was shaking her head like she wanted to detach it from her neck, so I tried again: "Like Kim Kardashian's?"
"IT'S A D!" She said so loudly I saw capital letters. "And what do you make of thissss?"
Strange day, indeed. She was showing me a p. So I pointed out the obvious: "You're holding a d upside-down, ma'am." She put the card in front of her face, frowned, slowly turned it 180 degrees, looked at the card again, then tossed it behind her shoulder.
Picking another card from the deck, holding it as if it was a rotten fish, she said, "And I suppose this is an upside-down b," tossing the q behind her to join the one on the floor, along with the shattered letters of the word she steamrollered earlier.
"And this, I'm sure, is not upside down, is it?"
I gulped with embarrassment: she was showing me a pictogram of u. "What do you call that, ma'am?" I hedged.
"It's another letter. What do you think this is?"
Turning away from her, I mumbled, "a breast?"
"And this?" she smiled sweetly (but laced with strychnine) and held up a v. "It's a pointed breast? And thissss," throwing a w in the air, "is Madonna's pair of boobs?"
"Wow! You have an awesome imagination, ma'am. I thought that v is a bird flying. A female bird."
"I'm afraid to ask, but how do you know it's female?"
"Because a boy bird looks like that (me, pointing at a Y), his ding-a-ling is dangling while flying. Ma'am, why are you throwing away that n?"
"That's just a breast upside-down. No use wasting time on double-n, er, I mean m, either. Let's move on to O."
"The moon! That's the oldest alphabet. I read somewhere that the first thing the first caveman drew was the first object he saw on the night-sky."
Finally catching on, the teacher added, "And this -- Q -- is a cat gazing at the moon. See the tail?" Tossing away the whole deck, she made a straight line on a piece of paper and drew a single v on the line: ____v_____
"I know that," I said. "It's..."
"Yeah, you dope, it's the bird on the wire." [Singing];
♫ Still I run out of time or it's hard to get through,
Till the bird on the wire flies me back to you,
I'll just close my eyes, whisper: baby, blind love is true.
I wanna lay me down... ♪
Anyway, Happy Letter Writing Day to all! \(^o^)/