The Penmanship

I have always been known for my penmanship. In 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, and 1991 I was awarded ‘Best Penmanship’ at Dragon Lake Elementary School’s annual award ceremony (in 1989 I was going through some stuff). I still have the certificates, and they hang with pride in 14-carat gold-plated frames on the wood-panelled walls of my candle-lit, Art Deco study, next to a bust of Napoleon.

Some people might say (or whisper to others) that I have had very few achievements; therefore I need to hang on to these mementos from the past. I say to those people: ‘Do you have an award for penmanship?’ The answer is (almost always) ‘no’. Sometimes they retort, ‘I received an award for spelling.’ I just feel sorry for those people (and I tell them so). They don’t realise that spelling is just spelling. Receiving an award for spelling is the equivalent of getting a handshake for having a shower. It is just something you do. You should never be awarded for it.

(I should note that I received the ‘Top Speller’ award certificate in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, and1991. The awards meant nothing to me.)

Spelling just takes knowing how something is spelled. Spelling just takes being familiar with the English language and knowing the 26 letters of the alphabet. It does not have to be neat, it does not have to be tidy. In fact, there is a book that will give you the spelling of any word you need to know. This book is called a dictionary and it is readily available on Amazon, starting at $0.01 (

Penmanship is something else altogether. Penmanship takes skill, precision, dexterity, technique, coordination (of hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder) and motor control. Penmanship is an art.

Penmanship in all its forms: handwriting and printing, is a way of expressing your personal style. I may not be a snappy dresser (opting for ill-fitting jeans and a turtleneck top), and my haircut may be not dissimilar to Hilary Rodham Clinton’s, but my penmanship is enviable.

Hardly a day goes by without a colleague walking by my desk… Sometimes, they stop to glance admiringly at my ‘to-do’ list. They almost always (1/13) comment on my penmanship. Sometimes they ask me to sign a birthday card for ‘someone in the office’. They always get me to ‘write something’, and to ‘sign my name’. We both know what’s really going on. They want the work of art that is my printing or handwriting. We both know that the ‘birthday card’ will be framed and hung on their apartment wall by Saturday, just in time for their holiday party (to which I am not invited).

And you know what, I don’t mind.

In 1987 I received the ‘Super Sharer’ award at Dragon Lake Elementary School’s annual award ceremony, and they don’t give that award to just anybody! They only give that prestigious (and illustrious) award to a certain exclusive group of selfless, charitable individuals that don’t mind allowing others to bask in their humanitarianism.

That award hangs with pride in a 14-carat gold-plated frame on the wood-panelled walls of my candle-lit, Art Deco study, next to a glass case which houses a real dinosaur bone.

When I look up at the award I am reminded that I have my awards. I have the recognition. I have had my time.

It is a privilege to share my gift of penmanship. Bring on the ‘birthday cards’.


6 thoughts on “The Penmanship

  1. Becky says:

    I totally remember you letter “a” you were able to “pen” it in “type font” as opposed to the rest of us that wrote circles with a stick on the side… read … envy … obviously a well deserved penmanship award.

    • holdyourhorse says:

      Hello Becky, my fellow Dragon Laker! Ah, the good old days. I remember eating pesto for the first time at your house for the first time, and thinking it tasted like sticks. The things we remember!

  2. Mintgreenapron says:

    Um, one of the finest moments in my life was placing top 3 in the Dragon Lake spelling bee. My 2nd place winning enabled md to purchase a book on Princess Di. Long live spelling bees and proper spelling!

  3. jam says:

    Although people should not be awarded for correct spelling, they should be slapped for spelling english words the american way! It’s just wrong.

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