The other night I was downtown where a group of about 60 kids were said to be attacking people “Children of the Corn” style near the corner of Birch and Knox. It was crazy, yo.

According to the notes I scribbled at the scene, “a gargantuan toothache was roiling in the east while unhappy plankton yawned sideways.”

You got that? Film at eleven.

My handwriting has deteriorated badly in recent years. I guess that kind of thing is to be expected now that I’ve turned 30, but it troubles me – the ability to take efficient notes is my bread and butter and occasionally my oatmeal. Without notes, I am silenced. And nobody wants that.

I was at an art show at the Bates Mill a couple weeks ago when a young woman gave me her thoughts on the importance of culture in Lewiston-Auburn. It was heady stuff, and eloquent, too. Yet, when I got back to the newsroom and flipped to that page in my notebook, all I could find were a few scribbled lines about “the vague mass of hard cats” and a couple passages extolling the many joys of “wink almonds.”

And while wink almonds are indeed delicious on a cool summer night, I’m pretty sure the young lady in question never said that about them as she was describing the merits of fine art.

It’s distressing. Back in the day, I could take perfectly legible notes while traveling at 70 mph on the back of a four-wheeler. I could take notes while crouched in a bush, while dangling from a tree or, that one time, while under water.

When I get back from an assignment and find that I can’t read my notes, I have two choices. I can spend precious deadline minutes tracking down the source of the information, which is both difficult and embarrassing.

“Hello again. Remember all the profound things you told me, completely off the cuff, five minutes ago at the scene of the crime? Would you mind repeating them verbatim and in the same breathless tone you used before? Hold on. I gotta write this down.”

Or I can omit the best part of a comment, sticking only with the boring stuff that I can read. That invariably results in lame, truncated commentary such as this.

“Ralph Splat was there when the alien spacecraft crashed down on his farm, exploding in a mushroom cloud of boiling fire and sending flaming extraterrestrials hurling across his barnyard. Splat described the scene: “I saw it happen,” he said. “My last name is spelled with one T.”

Riveting stuff. Film at eleven.

Now and then, I like to flip through the old notebooks that clutter my world in hopes of recapturing some of the thrills of forgotten stories. It used to be great fun. These days it’s like reading the incoherent ravings of a sleepwalking lunatic.

“Easter unit has war and it’s fluffy like Christmas,” according to one scribbled line. In its original, non-garbled form, this was probably some doe-eyed child expressing his hopes and dreams for a peaceful future. By the time I got done mangling his words, it looked more like something Ray Bradbury would write on an acid bender.

“Sprawling squirrel hole,” says another. I suppose this could be a mean name a kid called me in Kennedy Park. I’ve been called worse.

“Darcy’s on the floor. The walls are like bluing plumbers,” according to a line that was so important that it had a full notebook page all to itself. Wherever you are, Darcy, I hope you got some help for that.

“Gargantuan lemon whispers,” asserts another useless scribble. It’s rather striking how many of my notes seem to have the word “gargantuan” in them. I reckon it’s deeply psychological. I should probably be like Darcy and get some help.

You hear about all kinds of human abilities that decline as the years go by. You can’t run as fast at 60 as you could at 25, for instance, and you probably can’t stay up drinking all night and then get up for work at 6 a.m. It happens to everyone, friend. There’s no shame in that.

OK, there’s a little shame. And while I never heard that handwriting will betray a man just as hearing and eyesight eventually will, I have proof of it scattered across a few hundred notebooks full of utter nonsense.

I thought of a very poetic way to describe this phase of life earlier and wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget. “Tongue burn sadness on marshmallow mistress.”

Now, you just sit there and think about that a spell.

Also “gargantuan.”

Film at eleven.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: