My Italian Lover

red typewriterI spotted the two of them huddled in the corner of the café. She looked moony-eyed; he looked Italian. From the way her fingers caressed him, I knew she was in love.

I sipped my coffee and thought back to my own Italian lover. His name was . . . Olivetti. God, I’ll never forget his compact, solid body, his muscular carriage arm, and his platen—oh, his platen—firm as a new saddle. Even now I can hear the sweet ting of his return bell. We spent countless nights drinking strong black coffee and writing impassioned thesis proposals. But, I must confess, Olivetti wasn’t my first. There have been other—typewriters.

In high school, I had a crush on an older, darkly handsome Underwood. Though a bit hefty for a portable, I didn’t mind; his love handles made him easy to carry. We went steady until I fell hard for a pint-sized powerhouse called Smith-Corona. From the moment I first stroked his keys—I couldn’t keep my hands off him. Smith and I pounded out dozens of late night term papers; his robust striker arms produced two readable carbons. Yet despite their many good qualities, no other typewriter ever compared to my sweet Olivett

I gazed at the young woman, enjoying the rhythmic tapping emanating from her own Italian lover. And though jealous, I wanted to tell the girl all the secrets I knew about typewriters. Did she know that after its invention in 1867, typing was the exclusive domain of men, and twenty years later, when courses were finally offered to women, it caused a near riot? Typing, men argued, would make young women independent and give them ideas—ideas that could lure them away from the family farm and propel them straight down the road to sin and perdition.

My computer and I share no love. Powering up its cold circuits never sparked the passion I felt for my Olivetti, who required only the touch of my fingers to turn him on. And in all our years together, he never once gave me a Fatal Error.

Oh, my God. I suddenly realized that I had made a fatal error. Overwhelmed by longing and guilt, I got up to leave, but instead found myself standing beside the girl.

She gazed up, more curious than annoyed. “Can I help you?”

Trying not to sound crazy, I asked, “Would you mind if I typed a few lines?”

She smiled and offered me her chair. “Used to own one of these, didn’t you?”

Too choked up to speak, I simply nodded. Then, as if my fingers had been waiting for this moment, words flew straight from my heart and onto the page:

Dear Olivetti,

I miss you. Your ribbon may have faded, but not my tender memories.

P.S.: Sorry I sold you on Craig‚s List.