Old school: Typewriter Guy

My keyboard reminds me very vaguely of a typewriter, at least when it’s in its case. I know they’re totally different except for their portability, but even so, that thought led me to look up an old friend — Typewriter Guy, formerly of Sesame Street. I’m glad I did. He’s still cute — his voice resembles Bill Cosby, he narrows his eyes like Mo Willems’ pigeon, and (odd for his species) has only 4 fingers on each hand.

I could never actually type on the electric typewriter we kept in the kitchen; I dictated little stories to my sister when I was 6. (My first brush with proofreading, a harbinger of my present equipment: she’d typed “no” for “know” and I cried.) So, I was fascinated by the little red typewriter who wheeled around singing “nuni-nuni-nu” and getting in and out of trouble with the letter or word of the day by typing on himself. The result of his hunting and pecking startled him: the punchline of being knocked out by yellow yoyos or engulfed by green umbrellas. I like to think I started to understand words then. To this day I cannot fully understand the spoken word unless I see it. Somehow that made it easier to adjust to using Dragon years later, once I got over the initial shock and the longer disorientation period (which I will never quite get over). I knew the shapes my mouth would make, and so could mentally “type” them before I said them. (Even so, I feel relieved every time I see that my words have survived their leap to the screen.)

Typewriter Guy has a cousin in my keyboard, besides: the letter H is designated by a hand that looks as though it could span all his keys, no problem. (I should add that TG himself was quite the one-handed typist — the other mitt was busy making magic tricks or poking a pencil in his tire.) If you want to see Typewriter Guy’s adventures with shrinking cats, giant ears and making words come alive, a YouTube fan has collected many of the cartoon shorts here. Nuni-nuni-nu…

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