Now it’s Just a Typographical Memory
(This article first appeared in The Haven.)
How does a guy from Brooklyn become a rootin, tootin’ cowpoke who says things like ‘Howdy, pard’? It all began when I put a spur in my upper case “G.”
Yessiree, Bob. I didn’t know that’s what they called that little critter ’til I…Dagnab it. Imma gettin’ ahead of myself.
I was presenting my PhD thesis on Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote them there Canterbury Tales. That’s some crazy-ass stories, I tell you what.
Anyhoo, I fancied-up the G in ‘Geoffrey’ on my first Powerpoint slide, when a voice from the back of the room screamed: “Look, there’s a spur in the G.” I had no idea what in tarnation they were hollerin’ about. Another person yelled: “He must be a cowboy!” you know, because of the spur like what’s on a boot and everything.
I knew they were right, so I packed my bags and headed West on the next stagecoach, which wasn’t easy to find.
I drifted around a bit, with nobody really noticing my fancy-like G’s until I got a job at an Arizona dude ranch rustlin’ up grub for tourists. By and by, people came from all part just to see me write Gazpacho, Garden peas and Gherkins on the menu chalkboard.
One of the guests put me on this tiky-toky show and before you could say ‘git along little doggie,’ I was famous.
One day the big boss says “Forget menu boards. Go to California where they got billboards as big as the sky.”
So I did.
Pretty soon, I was the darling of Hollywood. My spurred G’s were on billboards, movie marquees and even film and TV credit scrolls. Celebrities like Gilbert Gottfried and Gina Gershon asked me to write their names. Before you knew it, I was writing hundreds of G’s and raking in the moolah. Others tried to out-G me but they fell one-by-one to the ‘G-slinger’ as TMZ dubbed me.
The mayor of Hollywood announced a name change to Gollywood, so I could add my special G to the sign when a young feller in the audience bellowed: “I hear tell that you think your upper case G’s are really something, don’t ya cowboy?”
Them young-uns is the worst. They think they’re faster on the drawing, but they always end up with cramped fingers, spasms or worse: carpal tunnel syndrome.
I tried to laugh it off, but he kept a-comin,’ calling me yellow-handed and such. The crowd egged him on, and there was nothing I could do but accept his challenge for the top G-spot.
“Tomorrow,” I said. “High noon on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
The next day, I spray painted the most exquisite upper case G ever seen on a sidewalk or graffitied wall. It covered almost a full block and the spur was like it had been formed by an angel.
The crowd cheered as I triumphantly tossed my empty can in the air.
My adversary stepped forward, double-flipped his spray can from his holster but instead of forming an upper case G he went lower case — a bold and risky gambit that nobody expected.
The ear had nary a kink as it thrust into the air beckoning the eye to follow. Instead of the usual fish hook tail, he produced a loop so cleverly done with thin and thick sections in just the right areas that it brought me to tears. And never in all my born days have I seen a link that so confidently joined top to bottom, a thread of Helvetica gossamer if there ever was one.
I knew I was bested and so did the onlookers who carried him on their shoulders to his pickup truck. Someone even validated his parking.
Everyone has their 15 minutes of fame and I had mine. I still sign autographs when someone on the street recognizes me, but truth be told I’m glad to be out of that racket.
In my quiet moments, I fiddle around with various serif designs, but I don’t show them to anyone.