Another free-writing exercise from Advanced Creative Writing, written in December 2012.

He Couldn’t Read Cursive

“My family has a collection of my great-aunt’s writings,” my classmate said, as we were walking back toward class.

“What kind of writings?” I asked.

“Letters, old diaries, that kind of thing.”

“That’s cool,” I said. “You ever read through any of them? You could write a family history if it’s interesting.”

“Nah, it’s all in cursive, and I can’t read cursive.”

He couldn’t read cursive. He couldn’t read cursive?

I know that I’m a few years older than this guy, but they don’t teach you how to read and write in cursive anymore? And even if they don’t teach you how, do cursive letters really look all that different from regular words.

I know that some letters are sort of strange, like the r, the s, or the z; especially the z. But come on, how can you not know how to read cursive if you know how to read at all?

I must admit that when I first picked up a book that was printed in the style of eighteenth century type, those weird looking esses were distracting, looking more like uncrossed effs, but it didn’t take me too long to figure out what was going on.

There must have been more to the story. Maybe the aunt had really bad penmanship. Maybe, because she was trying to save the expense of buying extra paper, she wrote so small that it was nearly impossible to read.

I guess I’ll never know, because I didn’t want to put the guy on the spot and demand that he tell me how on earth he didn’t know how to read cursive.

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