Fortunately, you don’t see as many as you might, because the extremely competent and watchful staff at the Powell Tribune catches almost all of them. Every once in a while, though, one or two boo-boos slip past the editors and proofreaders, so you’ve probably seen them.
I have an explanation for those errors. I think I make them because my mind is too busy thinking about the sentence I’m going to write next to pay attention to the sentence I’m writing right now. My brain sometimes behaves like a runaway team of horses, while my fingers act like a cowboy on foot whose boots are made for riding horses, not running after them.
To be truthful, though, simple carelessness is more to blame. That metaphorical stampede quite likely began because the cowboy in question was not giving his full attention to what he was doing, probably because he was daydreaming or simply asleep.
In addition, I am notorious for my ability to space out and be oblivious to whatever is going on around me. When I do this while my wife is talking to me, it has domestic repercussions, but other people observing this behavior probably just assume my head is empty and let it go.
The other day, though, I made a really embarrassing mistake when I signed in at the therapy center so I could give my muscles a workout. I spelled my name wrong.
It wasn’t actually a big mistake. I just left out an “n,” but since I’ve been spelling my name since 1950, it seems a little odd that I would misspell it now. Writing it correctly has to be so automatic by now that I should be able to write my name correctly while in a coma.
So there must be a psychological problem here, probably something in my past that accounts for this mistake,
It could be that just as I was learning to write, I was in a state of confusion about what my name actually was. Having named me after my father, my mother was afraid people would start calling me Junior.
In order to stop such a catastrophe from happening, she hung a nickname on me — I’m not saying what it was — and that’s what my name was for six event-filled years, during which I acquired three siblings and lived at locations in three other states plus three counties in Wyoming.
Then, as my first day of school approached, it was determined that, in school, I would be known by my real name, a decision that was made without consulting me. So, for a few weeks prior to the start of school, I was periodically asked what my name was, and it took a while before I learned that Donald was the right answer.
Even then, I had a little trouble knowing when I was Donald and when I was that other name. To complicate things further, one older lady who had something to do with school — I’m not sure just what, but she showed up regularly — misunderstood my parents and kept calling me Ronald.
With all that confusion about my name during such a crucial stage in my formative years, I’m sure it’s understandable and forgivable if I occasionally spell it wrong.
Unfortunately, there’s a more likely explanation for the spelling error, and it’s a rather embarrassing explanation as well. When I looked closely at what I had written, there was space between the “e” and the “d” in the autograph I had written on the sign-in sheet that was plenty big enough for a script “n.”
In the space, though, there was only a mildly wavy line connecting those last two letters. It was clear that I had attempted to write something in that space, but a person used to dealing with legible handwriting would have trouble deciding if it was a letter, and if it was, which letter was it.
I am quite familiar with the haphazard scratching I call handwriting, so I can read it, at least most of the time.
In this case, I was able to make out a barely discernable wave in the line. The slight curve appeared exactly where a letter should have been, so I took that as proof of my intent to write an “n.” That meant I hadn’t misspelled my name and it saved me from a lot of embarrassment.
Now all I have to be embarrassed about is submitting such a silly column.