Phooey to Handwriting!

by Roderick T. Long

[Idaho Falls, Mar. 18, 1976 (age 12). Although my story finds against him, Bobby’s attitude toward penmanship class (though not toward grammar or spelling) was my own. See also my vocabulary story in which penmanship is a form of punishment.]


“Phooey to handwriting!” said Bobby, crumpling up his penmanship paper and throwing it into the waste basket. Miss Summers had marked “Illegible. Redo.” in green pen over the top of the paper. Bobby knew “illegible” meant unreadable, but that was nonsense. He could read it perfectly – what did it matter if Miss Summers couldn’t?

Bibby’s older cousin Mary tried to explain that if Miss Summers couldn’t read it, probably no one else could, either.

“I’m the only one who needs to read it, silly!” said Bobby. “I don’t write letters or anything, so no one else ever sees it. Besides,” he remarked, “you can read it okay. Ain’t that so?”

“I am your cousin. I’m used to your stupid handwriting, so I can read it. And don’t say ain’t!”

“Aw, for Pete’s sake! There you go again!” groaned Bobby. “Lemme alone! Besides, I have to write out my Birthday Party invitations.” He got up and headed for the house.

“Don’t misspell birthday party!” his cousin yelled after him. He ignored her.

*     *     *


“Dear __________. Please come to my birthday party at ...”. Bobby groaned as he wrote out the seventh invitation. Then, he signed his name, put the card in one of the seven addressed envelopes, sealed it, and stamped it. Then he took the envelopes out and put them in the mail.

*     *     *

No one came.

*     *     *

No one came.

*     *     *

And no one came.

*     *     *

Finally, Bobby called up his friends to find out why

no one came.

*     *     *

“I couldn’t tell what your letter said,” said a friend.

“I couldn’t read what you wrote,” wrote another.

“Just what was it your letter asked?” asked still another friend.

Phooey to handwriting, indeed!

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