How These Skills May Benefit You Later in Life

I am surrounded by third graders, and I am playing the role of silent typist. My job
is twofold:

1.) type what they say
2.) act the mute

Small detail: hilarious typos
are encouraged.

“What does Alien Gus look like” the storyteller
asks, his eyes as big as fists, “use

simile, no blah words,
is he orange is he purple?”

The third graders
are overwhelmed with possibilities.

The room is very still.

Then, someone suggests
he wears a fancy suit.

In junior high school, I’d taken a typing class
which perhaps secretly

has been my favorite class
of all time

Better than philosophy, better than cray-pas, better than the history of science with the boy I once loved, better than any other fifty minutes
I have spent.

The cat is laying on the mat. The cat is laying on the mat. The cat is laying on the mat. (20x)

A tuxedo?

yes a tuxedo

What else about the tuxedo

the tuxedo is capable of becoming very slippery.

his ears are large and floppy,
the color of peat moss and

his eyes are black and big
as fists.

Each time I made a mistake in typing class
My mind could not comprehend it.

I had been so careful.

I had been concentrating, I had been

I stared at teh
with violent eyes

teh teh teh

“Stupid stupid stupid!” I would have shouted at my fingers,
had I been alone at the time

“you are all wrong, there is something miswired about you”

Alien Gus is the size of a baby.
Alien Gus is half alien, half man.
Alien Gus is very lonely.

He rides his tandem bicycle to the park
looking for a friend,
his bicycle

eetsy twee eetsy twee eetsy twee,

squeaking with filth of dust bunnies, which cling desperately
to the old frame
like war-injured men to a galloping horse

(the bike is dusty because, the third graders insist and agree,
“he stashes the bicycle under his bed every night.”)

The bees are singing in the trees.
The bees are singing in the trees.

We covered our hands with paper
so as not to see the keyboard

It felt quaint, antiquated —
a skill I should have been learning fifty years ago in a school house, remotely situated
in some sweet, golden prairie, somewhere

I balanced the sheet of paper over the boulders of my knuckles
sat straight up
and stared obediently into the black-grey eyes
of the monitor

letters spilling onto the screen like bright green lace,
page after page

of sweet nonsense, prickly pears prefered prunes, previously

I am sitting next to a little girl, or a little girl whom I mistakenly think is a little girl, she will later turn out to be a
little boy

she says to me

eyes bigger than fists

You are the fastest I have ever seen

I smile proudly. It’s all an act, but seriously,
I rock at this.

I type “noses” instead of “ears.”
I type “Jupiter” instead of “Mars.”

It is physically painful to do this:
Comprehend one instruction.
Manifest another.

Each time, a hush goes over the room: the third graders begin to chant my name,
drawing out the vowels, like a chorus

of melancholy spirits —

Loving, even.


I feign horror, embarrassment. My eyes tell them I must be having a bad day. I could be the president’s secretary. I have a typing degree.
I go back, I edit.

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