The WordPress Daily Prompt for August 14 asks, “Have you ever named an inanimate object? (Your car? Your laptop? The volleyball that kept you company while you were stranded in the ocean?) Share the story of at least one object with which you’re on a first-name basis.”
Each of the three cars I have owned … was it three? Let’s count. One exploded, caught fire, and melted into scrap before my eyes, one day after repairs to address its long-standing overheating issue. The next car was also prone to overheating—when one has owned a car that met its end via self-immolation, one develops a sensitivity to the matter—and I perpetually thought it was ten minutes from an explosion as well, but I saw it on the roads of my town for five years after I sold it. The last car was repossessed because I was not an adult back then, and banks like doing business with adults. So, yes, three.
Each of the three cars I have owned was always addressed as “she.” No proper names were given, though. As my disastrous history shows, it was best I not get too familiar with something I was going to mourn, sooner rather than later.
I have a superstitious nature, something that I am loathe to admit to. Place two identical pens before me, give me a day or two to use them, and I will declare one a favorite, and the other? I will have held it perhaps once, but I will have felt something about it frustrating or “wrong,” and left it alone. From then on, forever. I buy replacement pens even though I own many pens and have not been without a pen in decades. (The Zebra F-301 or G-301 model, for completeness’ sake. Black ink, 1.0 mm point size.)
Pencils, too. I am probably the ideal Blackwing 602 customer, but I like money more. A 12-pack of the pencil—oh! Look at those gorgeous creations!—will set a customer back approximately $20 either online or in person at Barner Books in New Paltz. (Full disclosure: I have nothing to disclose and no business interests with Barner Books other than it is one of my favorite bookshops.) That is a lot of money for a dozen pencils, eight of which I might very well ignore for forever in my writing tool superstition. So even though I have held a Blackwing 602 only one time so far in my life and I drooled over its swift action on the page, I have not purchased a set and I tell myself that it is because these are knockoffs made by a company that bought the naming rights and not the classic pencils themselves. Those, the real original ones, pop up on eBay at prices like $60 for three pencils. Yes, unused.
My writing implement superstition has reared its head in my life with computers, though, sad to say for my wallet. At this point, it would take me longer than you have available for me to recount the number of computers, laptops, and handhelds I have owned. (I loved the Treo 90 and owned a half-dozen over the years, some of which felt right and some of which did not.) Some computers I became attached to like a beloved typewriter, others were only employed to go online and make sure I was still alive when I discovered that typing on them just didn’t “feel right.” Four years ago I purchased a full-sized laptop on which I tried to write a book. Either the keyboard was built too sensitively or I typed on it like an orangutan, but it no longer produces the letter C. (One of the top 13 letters in our alphabet.) When the briefly popular Netbooks came out (the era lasted approximately six months in 2006), I bought the Acer seen at top. Upon learning that the full-size machine was resistant to writing, at least any words that needed the letter C, I returned to the Acer and discovered I was making more progress on that book project. It sat, happy to be employed, on top of the full-size laptop and became known as the “Little Guy.”
The silver Chromebook on which the Acer sits in the photo above is the computer on which I have been typing The Gad About Town since 2013. The “click” of its keyboard satisfies some ancient Smith-Corona itch I associate with writing, unlike most of the computers I have superstitiously ignored. (They all “click” when you type on them like I do.) It is also the “Little Guy,” and I am not looking forward to replacing him (cars are she and computers are he in my world, I suppose), as I have a real book contract for a real book now and need to get to work without any superstitions interfering.