23 April 2010


With all my talk of "wanting" and "having," you might have gotten the idea that I'm some kind of shopaholic.   I'd like to take this opportunity to assure you that I am decidedly not.  Even so, I still can't escape the occasional impulse buy, and as is commonly the way with impulse buys, I really really want to share the thing that I broke down and bought.

My latest weakness:

Yes, it's a typewriter.  A portable Olympia typewriter, the Traveller de Luxe, to be exact.  I got it for about fifteen dollars--which, some might argue, is a significant amount of money to pay for something that you absolutely will never, ever need.  But how I could I say no?  It's in incredibly good shape--other than needing a new ribbon--and it's so dang cute.  When it's boxed up in its case, you can hardly tell that there's an adorable little typewriter inside.

I really do love it.  It makes me want to pack a vintage suitcase and fly off to Paris to write a novel.

I should tell you right now, that this isn't the only typewriter I own.  And honestly, the other two aren't any more useful than I expect this one to be.  There's an old, rusted out skeleton of an L.C. Smith & Bros. No. 8 sitting out on our back porch.  Frankly, it's too messy to have it in the house, and on more than one occasion, I've had to tell my man that no, he cannot just pull the keys off in order to "make something cool" with them.

And then there's the Underwood.

Mostly, it just sits around gathering dust, but I like to imagine that someday, we'll find something clever to do with it, even if it does end up just being a conversation piece.

A few years ago, typewriter guest books were de rigueur.  Even Martha got into the action.  I'll admit, I had the fleeting idea that maybe the Traveller de Luxe could make the June trip to Ohio with us.  I love the idea of people click-clacking their well wishes.  And it would also be fun to explain to our youngest guests what a "typewriter" is.

Unless something remarkable happens, my generation will be the last to remember the typewriter as a useful tool, rather than just a museum piece.  I have vague memories of lugging my parents' manual machine around the house, using both hands to lift the case by its black plastic handle.  I played with it for a while, and I might have even written a school paper or two on it, but then everything changed, and all of a sudden, everyone had a computer at home.  I don't know what happened to my parents' typewriter.  I'm sure they don't have it anymore.

I don't know why I'm so fascinated by all this.  I guess I like the way that a typewriter, like an old sewing machine or a printing press, can be a machine, a complicated tool, that isn't too complicated to make some kind of sense to my human mind.  There are no batteries or microchips involved.  It's a self-contained miracle of engineering.  And it's solid, undeniably real.  Not like the flimsy piece of plastic that I'm typing all of this on right now.

The Traveller de Luxe will most likely not be flying to Ohio with us.  We'll have plenty of other things to haul around, I'm sure.  I haven't totally decided against the idea, though.  I think the guest book idea is a really good one, and I know that my partner-in-crime will agree when I say that there's just something about having a typewriter around...

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