Editor's note: this post was originally published on September 9, 2008
Generally, I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy - I speak a foreign language (arguably), I know when the correct time is to use "who" or "whom," I know the Spanish Armada occurred in 1588, I can point out the province of Manitoba on a map.....the list is endless, readers.
That being said, there are 2 things which must have slighted me in my youth, and they continue to be problematic in my "professional" years:
1. Cursive script
2. The ampersand (&)
Let's begin with cursive. I have a slight recognition of taking classes in cursive, and although I was clearly not bound for a career in calligraphy, I could at least write it. Now it has gotten to
the point where any knowledge I had of it has been completely erased from my memory, just like "Saved By the Bell: The College Years." This culminated about 5 years ago, when I was taking the LSAT. After the test, you are required to copy a paragraph stating you didn't cheat, ect. - in cursive. What did I do, you ask? I CHEATED. I copied it in regular print and attempted to turn it in. The important word here being "attempted.". That's right - the proxy handed it back to me, informing me it must be done in cursive. Humiliated in front of a classroom of people I didn't even know, I sauntered back to my chair and attempted to use cursive for a full paragraph. Even though I improvised very liberally, this small feat took me nearly 10 minutes, and I felt exhausted at the end. Anyone who knows me is fairly aware of the fact that to this day, I can barely even sign my own name in cursive, let alone write a sentence. This, friends, is embarrassing on so many levels.
Now, gracefully moving on to the ampersand. I'm afraid there's not all too much that can be said here. Bottom line - for the life of me, I cannot draw an ampersand. Is this something one is taught in school? If so, I must have missed that class. Perhaps the ampersand is a close relative of cursive? It wouldn't surprise me at all....that nemesis.
Yesterday, I was attempting to write down the name of a company, which, sure enough, had an "&" in the name. You know exactly where this is going...I couldn't do it. I tried over and over again, looking at the damn ampersand, tracing its lines and everything, and still couldn't figure it out. Defeated, humiliated by my own actions, and somewhat enraged, I went with a "+".
I'll tell you this - I hope I'm never in a hostage situation where I am forced to write down the name of my fellow hostages (using only ampersands), and if I don't do it correctly, our captor has threatened that all the hostages will die. If this ever occurs, I apologize in advance, and I promise I'll see you on the other side.