Thursday, May 28, 2015

One space

One space. Just one. Not two. Two spaces are for people over forty. Raise your hand if you know what I mean. You, with your hand raised, are one of two people. A smooth-skinned youth with naught but your future hopes and dreams ahead of you. Or a mature self-starter who read about this rule on another blog or (spare us all) in the Chicago Manual of Style, and who feels just a tad superior about your educated awareness.

Now, put your hand down and get out. Get out, get out.  Get out.

To those of you left, welcome. What I am about to tell you is earth shifting. A truth thrust upon us by this new world we inhabit. It's unsettling and will make you question everything you once believed. Remember Santa? This is just like that, except worse.  

I learned how to type in the 7th grade. And I was good. Fast, accurate, "like a breath of fresh air across the keys" is not what my typing teacher recorded in her grade book. I imagine she would have though, if asked to describe my typing prowess. 

Quick question. When I wrote 'learned how to type' did you picture a computer or a typewriter? If you thought computer, get out. Why are you even still here?

A typewriter is the correct mental image. Until recently, I didn't think much about it. Then a friend of mine (who sprang from a different decade) reacted with bug-eyed shock when I told her I learned on a typewriter. As though typewriters are akin to orange julius, Members Only and Whitesnake. 

It was one of those reality-check, slam you in the face kind of moments. My childhood straddled a technological divide. By admitting an association with the typewriter, I had confessed to being part of a generation who struggled through backspace and whiteout. The tail end of those generations, mind you. It's not like I used an abacus. Geez.

In class all those years ago I learned many important typewriting life lessons. Not the least of which was to put two spaces after every period. Two spaces. For readability and clarity. Two. Absolutely no exceptions. And thus have I practiced and applied this rule with due diligence and pride to every period I have ever typed. 

Until now. 

I wrote a book this year. During my writing sessions a little voice popped up here and there whispering lies about periods and spaces. "Be quiet," I told that little voice. "You know nothing." Then I finished my book and as I cheerily took on the process of revision my little voice piped up again. "One space after a period," it hissed like a traitor. "one space." 

With shaking hands and a brave heart, I googled it.

It's a funny thing, history. Two spaces after a period should be a valued part of ours. Of a simpler time when kids played outside by themselves until sunset. Of Rubik's cubes and Atari. A time when we lived life at a slower pace with one TV and no remotes.  

Those of us adjusting to one space should be revered for our historical willingness to work our fingers to the bone for a sentence. And for our ability to adapt as times change. So I revise my book and with each space I delete, I shed the dated version of me for one who presses the space bar just once. After. Each. Period.   

To you who feel bound to the letter of the law established under the rule of typewriters, come out and into the sunshine of one space. It's fun, it's easy and feels a tad naughty allowing our sentences to get so cozy.

Try it. Go ahead. I think you'll like it.


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