A green Hermes typewriter, a poet, and a search for love…
Slightly breathless, I call Ermanno, my handsome typewriter mechanic. “Did you see the L.A. Times?
Big story on the front page. A poet writes at the Farmers Market — on a portable Hermes typewriter. And it’s green!”
I gaze at the paper as I tell him. The machine is even cuter than I remembered. I can’t make out if it’s a 3000 or not.
“Square or round?” he asks.
I look more carefully at the pictures. “Square. Kind of squat.”
“Not the same,” he sniffs. “I’m looking for yours. It must be beautiful… like you … you won’t like it otherwise.”
I fell in love at his store a few months back. There was a dusty seafoam green portable, partially dismantled, perched on an equally
old file cabinet, high above the ordinary Selectrics. I point, too overcome to speak.
“Hermes 3000,” he coos, following my eyes. We are in the back, but now he hustles to a farther corner,
what I realize must be his secret stash. He pulls out another.
“Try this,” he says. “Like Greta Garbo used –” and he slowly lifts it out of its hardtop
case to let me touch it. On the crisp white paper, every letter I type comes out as specially-designed cursive and I can imagine
her typing out her notes, each page looking like she hand-wrote it. Something stirs
within me, a heady combination of lust and desire and fantasies of being on a train with a handsome stranger
across the aisle, and I’m a mysterious journalist in a finger-tip black veil hat with my portable tucked under
my silk-stockinged legs.
At the front counter, I’m surrounded by discarded Selectrics. My fingers twitch above the keyboard. This
baby is old-school, with keys you feel, unlike my heartless computer keyboard.
“I can find you one,” he says. The heroin dealer offering a free taste.
I am almost afraid to ask. He senses my question.
“300. Another 3 to make it right.”
I exhale. I’m surprised. I expected thousands, like the collectables he shows me pictures of, Remingtons
used by Jack London, vintage beauties stroked by greatness.
We make a plan to hunt one down. 600 for a dream doesn’t seem impossible.
But with today’s article, I’m worried. “This story will cause a run on them.
People will find out. Typewriters connect hand to the heart.”
Ermannos listens as I prattle on. I imagine him fixing something as I talk.
“Poems on a computer are not the same. There’s nothing like a typewriter, people will
realize that.” I am ambivalent, I want people to love these machines but I want one for
Ermanno dismisses me. He knows I worry about things I cannot control.
“I know where one is,” he admits. “I’ve been working on it for you. But I must convince the collector.”
“Tell him I would treat it like an only child.”
“LIke a lover,” Ermanno corrects. We are both breathless.
“I would travel with it. It would never be alone. It would be part of me. It would never sit with its unused brothers.
“I will find it,” he promises. “It must be right.”