Handwriting, that is.
In grade school, teachers used to tell me I had perfect penmanship. But decades of fast-paced administrative jobs took their toll and I’ve had to work to make it legible again.
A handwriting expert at a recent expo was offering free analysis. Intrigued, I followed the instructions and scribbled out the words “As I am” and “Golly” in cursive. It looked terrible. The only cursive I did with any frequency was my signature.
A sweet Midwestern lady with a bright smile and boisterous demeanor went to work pointing out my hidden characteristics in a tone a librarian might use with a child looking for a book. Words like close-minded, mistrusting, and reclusive tumbled merrily from her. She tossed in a couple of positive terms (free-thinker and book-lover) before she said, “See that “s” that you printed instead of writing cursive? That means you have difficulty with authority.”
Gee, I thought that meant that I was unpracticed at cursive handwriting. But she had a point. As long as I can remember I have had levels of difficulty with everyone from parents to the parish priest.
After five minutes with this woman, who probably had the penmanship of a third grade teacher, I felt marked. The FBI and CIA used handwriting analysis in criminal profiling, right? What if I dropped my grocery list in the supermarket and a retired member recognized darkness lying dormant there, then placed me on a watch list that made it difficult to pass through airport security? The character that this woman described was an antisocial malcontent who thrived in isolation and enjoyed plotting wrong-doing.
I thanked her, grateful that I had not paid for this revelation into my psyche, and chewed this over like a piece of overcooked meat. Certainly I wasn’t that person. Sure, I lived out in the country, but I wasn’t holed up in the back woods plotting against humanity for Pete sake. I’ve yelled at bad drivers from the privacy of my own vehicle. I often preferred the company of pets over people. And I did spend a great deal of time in alone. Hadn’t my suspicious nature mellowed with age?
That’s when it hit me. As a writer, those qualities made me perfect for The Job.
I had a soft spot for morally ambiguous characters, but in reality I had no stomach for dirty deeds or people who did them. I did have a strong sense of justice, but often disagreed with the laws and the people continually writing new ones.
Having handwriting that suggested a Dexter-like aptitude for plotting ill wasn’t such a bad thing. In fact, that made me uniquely qualified to bring the dark side into the light. Like Wednesday Addams, I’m still fascinated with The Bermuda Triangle and have not yet outgrown the age where “there’s only one thing on a girl’s mind.” And it’s not boys.