Dirty diapers & dirty ribbons & the cycle of life.
I came to the front door a few months ago, right in the middle of changing a typewriter ribbon. I do it so often — I buy Nakajima correctible ribbons by the half-dozen. (And talk about a tough thing to find — they’re as scarce as hen’s teeth). Jamie’s friends from college were there, fresh and clean, ready to go out.
“What’s that?” one girl asked in horror staring down at my hands.
“What’s what?” I asked back, not knowing what she meant. I followed her gaze to my filthy fingers, black & inky from my struggle with the naughty winder. I clutched a typewriter ribbon like it was an appendage, and I was so used to having one around it didn’t phase me when I had to stop mid-change to answer the door. I didn’t even feel it anymore.
I told her I was changing a ribbon on my typewriter. She looked totally blank. “You HAVE one of those?” she asked.
I sensed an opportunity. “If you really want to know –” she leaned in expectantly — “I have TWO. Want to see?” I always love showing someone their first.
Jamie grabbed her arm pre-emptively, sensing I was preparing for my dog & pony act. “Don’t show her now, Mom, we don’t have time.”
The Saturday night party-scene seemed far, far away. Was I getting old, or was I way too into my machine? I went back into my 4-walled enclave, finished jockeying the ribbon into its holster, washed my hands and got back to work. LIke a baby, I could barely smell the fume of the soiled diaper, I’ve gotten so accustomed to it. Typewriters run out of ink. You change them. Babies shit. You change them. It’s part of life, the endless cycle, of cleaning and dirtying, cleaning and dirtying. The thrill of a new ribbon — like a clean diaper — wears off quickly and isn’t even remembered by the time you get to the end of the fresh one’s shelf-life. Then it’s time for a new one … and so on and so on and so on. I can either get depressed about it or see it as forward movement. I choose to call it progress.
Have you gotten so used to a dirty routine it doesn’t even phase you anymore? Is that OK? How does it make you feel? Have you ever changed a diaper — or a ribbon?