More than a few times this week, the universe has sent the site Calligraphr across my social feed. This is a website where you can create your own font. The funny thing is I’ve already tried and made my own font using my handwriting. (It’s pretty easy and cool if you’re into that kind of thing.) Seeing these ads brought back some memories I have around my penmanship…
When I was about eight years old, my stepmom and dad bought a “Chinese” restaurant. It had a big yellow sign in front with a stereotypical (racist) Asian font that read Yu’s Restaurant and an illustration of a Chinese junk ship. Who was Yu? Who knows? But it sure sounded Chinese. The menu, on the other hand, included bacon and eggs alongside chow mein. Not exactly authentic Chinese.
The custody arrangement between my mom and dad was pretty loose and I never knew where or for how long I’d be staying in any house. That year, I stayed the whole summer with my dad and stepmom and that meant I got to go to the restaurant everyday and help out. For some kids that might sound like a bore, but I was excited because I had lots of fond memories of hanging out at my grandpa’s coffee shop. Also, it was the 70s and I didn’t have a phone or tablet to keep me occupied.
Being a good helper turned out a little more challenging than expected. When I “worked” at my grandpa’s I was in charge of buttering toast and pouring milk orders. Sometimes, I got to make little packets of lettuce and tomato for the burgers. I made them into little squares that fit on top of the patties perfectly before getting a toasty sesame bun placed on top.
At Yu’s though, I was allowed to have more responsibilities, but that also meant I was able to make more mistakes. Wait, I wasn’t supposed to give the merchant copy of the receipt to the customer? Oops, I wasn’t supposed to yell, “Is that a cockroach?!” while customers were in the restaurant? For the record, it was a shrimp tail, but the damage was done.
After a few more days like this, my stepmom decided that perhaps I could do minimal damage if she gave me the task of writing the specials of the day on the board. She gave me the board and some special markers with the words to write. I took my time forming each letter just right. When I was done, I stepped back and admired my handiwork. Not bad, not bad.
Just a few minutes after I propped it up, one of the customers stopped and gave my sign a look on their way out. “Did you do this?” she asked. I was perched on the stool next to the cash register. I nodded my head with the pride you still have when you’re only eight. “What nice penmanship you have!” she exclaimed. I beamed. Finally, something I could do right! And that was my job for the rest of the summer.