The Dream is This: Poets on the Street and the Roar of a Typewriter Posse

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And this is how to negotiate a poem:

Tallulah the Royal Futura

Alabama Girls Do All Right

Fresh Ribbon


Occasionally, I get a little Ebay-happy and bid on a typewriter I’m completely unsure of. The machine usually has a bad picture or a lackluster description. Sometimes I email the seller and get back either useless information or no email at all. This has happened to me three times and every single time I’ve lucked into a prize.

This one is prize number three. I’m always a fraidy-cat when it comes to opening The Box on the Porch when a new typewriter arrives. It’s the moment of truth, especially when the machine inside is a gamble. I paid almost nothing for this Royal Futura 800 – even less than the low shipping cost. Sometimes, though, you’ve got to put it in perspective: I’ve spent more on a dinner out at a mediocre restaurant. I’ve bought earrings more expensive than this. Just cruising past the Estee Lauder counter sets me back twice the cost of the shipping alone.

In the end, it was sent to the wrong address, poorly packed, and the case…well. I spent the better part of an hour just trying to get the rusted latch to open, when it might have been easier just to start ripping the leather away by hand.

But look what was inside. Aside from Tallulah’s obvious beauty, all I had to do was put in a fresh ribbon and start typing. Just like that. I took her to my office the very next day and kept her on my desk as an everyday typer. The color is interesting – something between blush and band-aid, but it has an angelic, effortless touch. Ed at Acme Business Machines said that of all the typewriters I’ve ever brought him, this was his favorite. She’s such a coquette. Just look at her up there, posing in the gardenias.

She’s also a sassy Alabama girl with (literally) untapped ambition. Possibly a graduation gift to a young girl who’d rather marry her high school sweetheart than go to college, and so the gift languished, unused, and stored carefully away. Then uncarefully away as the kids and her life began to fill out. It’s possible this typewriter represented a regrettable decision and finally went to live with the shed spiders. Who knows.

So I named her Tallulah Bankhead, because sometimes good Alabama girls didn’t marry the sweetheart, sometimes they left home and became famous bad girls.