Here I repost a sad story I first shared in 2010. I was composing posts when the keyboard went wonky. Twice. Risking inconvenience to readers, I put it online anyway. If you skip the wonky part, I’ll understand, but please read all of the un-wonky parts. There’s a book afterward.

To assist today’s readers, I start with an introduction and a couple of hints.


While I was writing, laptop keys stopped working–one at a time, in no particular order. No matter how hard or in which direction I tapped, they didn’t depress, and nothing appeared on the screen. I considered giving up, then decided to keep a-goin’. The next day, I called technical service, was told I could replace the keyboard myself, visited Radio Shack for tools, used them, nearly stripped a screw, called tech service, received a visit from a tech, got a quick fix.

An easily replaceable keyboard isn’t usually much to worry about, but in my keyboard’s case, there were extenuating circumstances, and I didn’t look forward to anyone poking around. I suspected something beneath the keyboard might be causing the malfunction. The tech might think so too. He might give me a look of reproof, even a mild reprimand.

William Davis & Bookworm
William Davis & Bookworm

I would have to stand there and take it, blushing all the while. My innate honesty would prevent me from saying my husband did it.

To learn why I’d have blushed, you’ll have to read to the end.

Hint #1 : A single e might mean tech. But it might not. An a might mean a, or not.

Hint #2: Under the keyboard–it wasn’t cat hair.


Wa do you do wen your keyboard malfunions?

Wen my spae bar sopped working, I aed online wi Dell e suppor.  e e old me I would reeie a new keyboard in e mail. I was supposed o insall i.

“Me?” I said. “Insall a keyboard?”

e e said i would be a snap. If I needed elp, e would walk me roug i.

I go e keyboard and looked up e insruions, wi said I ad o unsrew e bak. I jus knew I would be eleroued.

Bu I boug a se of srewdriers a RadioSak and flipped e lapop oer, remoed e baery, and aaked e srews.

e srews wouldn’ budge. I exanged a srewdrier for anoer srewdrier. I used all six. None of em worked.

I wen online again o a wi Dell. e e lisened, en old me o ry again.

I oug abou e definiion aribued o Einsein: Insaniy is doing e same ing oer and oer and expeing a differen resul.

“I wouldn’ urn,” I old e e.

He said e would send a e ou o e ouse o insall e keyboard for me. (I’m no dummy. Wen I boug e lapop, I boug a e o go wi i.)

Anyway, e nex day a e ame. He go ou is se of 3500 srewdriers, remoed e srews, ook off e old keyboard, and insalled e new one. He said I didn’ ave e rig size srewdrier. en e asked wa else I needed.

“I know you don’ ae an order for is, bu ould you wa me insall is exra memory a Dell e said I’m ompenen o insall myself?” He said e’d o i for me. I oug a was ery swee.

Anyway, i’s appened again, exep is ime i’s more an e spaebar. I’s e , , , and  keys.

I’e used anned air. So far all i’s done is make ings worse. Wen I began, only e  key was ou.

How an I wrie wiou a keyboard?

So tomorrow I’ll chat with my Dell tech and–

Well, mercy me. I took a half-hour break and now all the keys are working again. I wonder what that was all about.

Nevertheless, I shall report the anomaly. Call me an alarmist, but I don’t want this to happen a third time. I might be preparing a manuscript for submission. I’m being proactive.

But still–I’m torn. If I do need a new keyboard, I want a tech to make a house call. I don’t have the proper screwdriver, I don’t know what size screwdriver to buy, and I don’t want to tamper with something that is still under warranty.

On the other hand, I have to consider the worst-case scenario: The tech takes out his screwdriver, loosens the screws, turns the laptop over, removes the keyboard, and sees lurking there beneath the metal and plastic plate the reason for my current technical distress: rumbs.

e same, e earae, e disgrae a being found guily of su a soleism. e prospe is oo illing o spell ou.

Bu for the sake of ar, I sall submi myself o e proud man’s onumely. omorrow I sall a wi Dell.



Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters is a novel by Mark Dunn.

It’s “[a] hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.”

“Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (Amazon)

If I’d composed the passage above, I’d have written HILARIOUS in caps.



Image of keyboard by Simon from Pixabay

Image of screwdriver by Davie Bicker from Pixabay

Image of William David playing Bookworm by MKW

Nyah nyah nyah.

Last week the manager of the neighborhood HEB told me the store no longer accepts checks written with pink ink. They would take mine this time, but in the future

What a shame. I’ve always thought my colored ink–especially the pink–added a certain flair to my checks. I imagined it made people in the back office happy to see pink ink. I believed my checks provided a bright moment in their dreary numerical lives.

I wheeled groceries to my car thinking of Amy, my first paralegal instructor, who said she signed everything in purple. I wondered whether the Bexar County District Clerk has since told her to stop it.

But I digress.

Act III of Shakespeare's Hamlet: King Claudius...
Act III of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: King Claudius and the theater. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We now return to grocery store, where we are reminded that Shakespeare’s themes are indeed universal, and that perfectly nice people still suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and bear the Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely, the insolence of Office, and–especially–the Spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes. To wit:

Yesterday I wrote another check to HEB–in black ink this time–for $48.26; but on the second line I spelled out forty-six. I considered voiding the check and writing another, but instead struck through the six, wrote eight above it, and initialed the change. I also wrote my phone and drivers license numbers. Handing the check and my license to the cashier, I said, “I made a correction. Is that all right?”

The cashier looked at my check. She looked at my license. She looked at me. At the license. At me. At the check…and so on, back and forth. I wished she would stop.

Just when I was on the verge of offering to write another check, or, better yet, pulling out my credit card, she said, “You didn’t spell this right.”


“It needs an h.”

She pointed to the word eight.

“It’s spelled correctly,” I said. It had an h. Adding another would have made it eighth.

She looked at me, looked at the check. Examining the check, she appeared confused, but the looks she gave me were accusing. Frown. Narrowed eyes. You know the look I’m talking about.

Now I was on the verge of saying, I have known how to spell eight since I was seven years old, so there! But again I remained silent.

Finally she hit on a solution. She set the check on the counter, dotted the i, and went over the word, tapping each letter with the point of her pen. Then she said, “Okay,” ran the check through the little machine thingy, and handed me the receipt. I gathered my groceries and left.

It was fortunate our conversation ended there, because I’d been on the verge of saying, In fifth grade, I won the district University Interscholastic League spelling and plain writing contest with a perfect paper, which means I closed all my o‘s and a‘s and made the k‘s and l‘s taller than the t‘s and d’s, AND I dotted all the i’s. And I didn’t misspell eight.

Walking across the parking lot, I once more noted my unfortunate resemblance to Frasier. I didn’t go to Harvard, but I know how to spell eight, and I left the i undotted for aesthetic reasons. Nyah nyah nyah.