Inky fingers

25Mar10

Left-handed President Obama signed the US Healthcare Bill with a series of 22 fountain pens taken from a ceremonial rack. Apparently the pens gain some historical value when they are used for such an event. The used pens are given as gifts from the President to favoured visitors. The demand for such gifts exceeds the number of historical signature events, so multiple pens are used to build up a supply in the state gifts cupboard at the White House.

I am also left-handed. I have a fountain pen which I rarely use, because I’m left-handed.  When most left-handers write in ink with an elegant pen they have to be extremely careful to avoid smudging the words that they have just written as their hand moves across the page.

I learnt to write with a fountain pen, using a small sheet of blotting paper resting under the side of my hand. This reduced the smudging slightly, but I was very grateful to the school teachers who allowed me to use a ballpoint pen (many of them didn’t).

Barack Obama’s name contains 11 letters. Using 22 pens he must have formed half a letter with each. I think that the state visitor who is given a pen that was used to write half a ‘c’ or half a ‘r’ should feel a bit snubbed. Presumably the pen used for the bottom half of the capital B will be saved for a very special occasion.

Each of those 22 half-letters has probably been smudged. If his fountain pen writing style is anything like mine the signature will resemble half a Rorschach blot. I hope that this has not invalidated the Healthcare Bill. It will be a lot of hassle to go through the process again.



4 Responses to “Inky fingers”

  1. 1 Andy F

    Ah, the curse of the left-handed. Ok, so I’m right handed, but my mother, wife and daughter are all left handed. My wife is always complaining about a right handed world, usually a kettle, but the latest item of ire is apparently the new ironing board, which is designed for right handed use.
    But why do you lefties have to conform, what is to stop you writing from right to left, then no ink smudges. OK, that may not work, however nothing to stop you from having a right to left signature, after all by definition its is unique to you.

  2. 2 Martin B

    22 pens where one would have done the job, no wonder there is a view that government spending is out of control!

  3. 3 Andy, Aviva, Perth

    I’m left handed too but I write with my hand below the “line”, much as most right-handers do, so smudging is not a problem – perhaps I was lucky to have a good teacher when I was learning (although I can’t remember).

    Both my children are left handed (but my wife is right handed) and are a vet and vet student respectively. They have had to learn how to use things like surgical instruments right handed as very few practices have left handed instruments (there always have to be at least two sets – one in use and one being sterilised) as it is too expensive.
    It’s no wonder left handers are supposed to be able to adapt better than right handers!

    • Yes. I had to learn how to use a mouse with my right hand. It has been a struggle but it has made me strong 🙂


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