Thursday, January 24, 2008


This post from the PopWatch blog at has sent me on a trip down memory lane. Join me, won't you?

Apparently, yesterday was National Handwriting Day. I am quite fascinated that there is such a thing. I suppose in the digital age penmanship is a dying skill. Had I known that yesterday, I might have posted a picture of my handwriting. It is legendary. I have possibly the worst handwriting in the history of the world. My own parents could never decipher it, no classmate ever asked to copy my notes for a class, and a student teacher once asked me in all seriousness to please start bringing a typewriter with me to school. In college, I gave up and started printing my notes and exams, and of course made good use of the computer lab; my printing is only marginally better than my cursive. My bad handwriting is probably my dad's fault. Not only did I inherit his incoherent scrawl, but in the weeks before kindergarten, when I was still coloring and holding pencils with both my right and left hands, he made me start using my right hand exclusively in the hopes it would make life a little easier. A part of me thinks I might have been a burgeoning lefty, and the switch caused irreversible neatness damage.

But enough of that. The post uses Handwriting Day as a backdrop for stories about celebrity autographs, and the stories behind them. I love hearing other people's tales of brushes with the famous and almost-famous. That I have had so few encounters with the gods of sport and entertainment always reinforces my opinion that I just have bad luck, especially since some friends of ours seem to literally run into famous people on every vacation they take.

I have had a few close encounters, though, and a few autographs that I treasure enough to place on my list of material things I would make a run for in the event of a fire.

1. My note from Johnny Carson
In 8th grade, our English teacher taught us how to write formal letters by having us write letters to the celebrity of our choice asking him or her to mail us an item they were about to throw away. Once we all got past the "Ewwww...garbage" factor, my classmates started writing to the standard heart-throbs of the day: Alyssa Milano, Ralph Macchio, George Michael, Kirk Cameron, that chick from Charles in Charge who went on to be on Baywatch, etc. Not me. My mom wanted me to write to Johnny Carson. Oh, I loved Johnny, too, but my coolness factor went down considerably when my classmates found out who I was writing to. Until the day my letter came back.

We provided our middle school's address in our letters, and one day the secretaries intercommed into my English class: send the girl down who wrote to Johnny, she got a letter from the studio today! In front of several teachers, I tore into the rich, thick envelope paper with "Carson" printed on it. Inside was a simple piece of crumbled note paper with handwriting from a blue felt pen: Rehearsal w/Ed, Thurs. It was a real-life piece of garbage. From the desk of one of the greatest entertainers of all time. With his own note-to-self written on it. My legs felt weak and my head spun, and all of us teared up a little. Oh, the power of a little piece of paper.

2. My Harper-Lee signed To Kill a Mockingbird
I was incredulous. How in the world did hubby get a new copy of TKAM with the reclusive Miss Lee's scrawl? Apparently, when the 40th anniversary edition of the novel came out, Harper Lee signed a quantity of the books for an independent bookstore in her town that had been kind to her. Jason found one online with the right certificates and credentials shortly after their release. If you know me, you know that this is my favorite book of all time; for a long time, I wanted to name my daughter Harper. I even named my first pet as an adult "Scout." I love looking at her signature, and when I first opened the box this gift came in, I caught a whiff of buttercream frosting that still lingers a little on the cover. I like to think of Miss Lee sitting at the desk at the bookstore, nibbling on a dainty slice of cake, sipping coffee, and signing those books.

3. My two Bruce Campbell-signed books
I love Bruce Campbell. If you're reading my blog, you already know this about me. I loved him as Brisco. I loved him as Ash. I even love those Old Spice commercials. I've had the pleasure of meeting Bruce twice at two different book signings; one for his memoir, If Chins Could Kill, and another for his novel, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way. Of course, the first time is always the best. In 2001, Jason and I travelled down to meet a friend in Lexington the day before Halloween to hear Bruce talk about being a B-movie actor and get our book signed at Joseph Beth. He was hilarious, and during the signing I actually got to sit next to him for a whole minute and tell him about the Army of Darkness drinking game we used to play in college. Good times, good times. The autograph on that one says, "Stay groovy." The second time, Mr. Campbell was a little more rushed and the rules were more formal. But I did get to have a photo op with him, look him in the eye (they always look so much shorter in person, don't they?) and get an inpersonal signature on my copy of his novel. But he is the only celebrity I have ever met face-to-face, so I still feel the love.

What about you? Whose handwriting on an otherwise meaningless slip of paper made your heart jump? If you could get anyone's autograph, who would it be?

And since yesterday was a day to celebrate the power of the (hand) written word, go write something. Lipstick messages on bathroom mirrors are not only acceptable, but encouraged.


Robert K. said...

My only brush with fame was meeting Jennifer Ringley of the "Jennicam" in 1998, back when webcams were actually unique and unusual. Eric worked for the company that hosted her site, and we had dinner with her and her boyfriend, and spent the night on her couch. She had two pet ferrets, and they shat on me during the night.

Good times, good times.

Mrs. Deb K said...

HAHAH!!! My dear husband had to bring up the Jennicam incident :)
My dearest autograph would be my 20th anniversary edition of Interview with a Vampire signed by Anne Rice! Beyond that, I helped Harvey Keitel troubleshoot his DirecTV receiver about 5 years ago - that was pretty cool, though not nearly as cool as Rob thinks the Bruce Campbell encouter would be!!

Library Lady said...

Ahhh, I love me some Anne Rice, too. And picturing Rob covered in ferret poop? Priceless.

Karen said...

Hehehe...too bad the ferret poop incident wasn't caught on a web cam. I'd pay to see that! ;) My only real claim to fame is when I met Carl Sagan and his wife at a book signing. My father said I should have to told him how he made me cry when I was six years old and watching Cosmos. He said the sun was going to explode in millions of years. How was I supposed to know that was a long time away?