Chapter 20

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When I was in grade school, under the care of the nuns, I had a little trouble with handwriting. Actually, a lot of trouble.

In those days you had to have good, legible handwriting, because typewriters were much too heavy to carry around everywhere. Well, my body doesn't work well. There's no part of it that works well. Sometimes I fall down. Sometimes my eyes stop working and I go totally blind. I cough all winter. I can't run. I spend whole days too weak to do anything. My hands shake. My memory is so bad that school was entirely wasted on me. My mind blanks. I'm just a mess.

Needless to say, I lacked the manual coordination for doing handwriting.

And the nuns, like all adults, enthusiastically abused me as if I were performing badly on purpose. They believed that if they just made me feel bad enough, somehow my nervous system would start working correctly and when I told the pen to go to the left or the right it would go to the left or the right instead of some random unpredictable direction.

It didn't seem like a good approach then and it doesn't seem like a good approach now. Convincing a kid that he is hopeless will condemn him to a hopeless life, and he won't burn in hell for that -- you will.