Monster messes evoke wonder, frustration

September 13, 2012|Lisa Prejean

It was something I knew I shouldn't do, but I did it anyway.

After all, I had never made a mess before. Why should I worry about it now?

For years my coffee cup has been my constant companion as I write columns or prepare lesson plans late into the night.

The cup has its place: To the left of the laptop's keyboard and up one level on the desk. Far enough away to prevent a mishap, yet close enough to reach as I start to nod off.

On a recent evening, however, the inevitable happened. With my left hand, I reached around the laptop screen for the cup as my right hand emphasized a point in the presentation I was preparing for the next day. My eyes never left the screen and therefore did not notice that the cup was about to collide with the side of the computer.

When I realized what was happening, it was too late. Coffee sloshed over my keyboard and screen as I let out a startled, "Oh, no!"

It was a monster of a mess.

I grabbed the laptop, unplugged it, wiped it down with tissues and turned it sideways.

As the coffee trickled out of the keys, it was obvious that my laptop was in trouble. It was still functioning, but I knew it was just a matter of time.

I continued to type. The keys slowly began to protest.

The "r" key was the first to go. Then the "l" bit the dust. The period key no longer worked, but the "j" key magically performed on its own. Like this -- jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj -- in the middle of a sentence.

Nice, eh?

Have you ever tried typing without an "r" an "l" a "." and with a possessed "jjjjjjjjj"?

Think about it. Sentences wjjjjjjjjjjjould ook ike this

And they did.

Talk about an English teacher's nightmare.

To make matters worse, the delete key wouldn't delete, and one tap of the space bar created a backward-moving Pac-Man-like letter-eating cursor. (Some of you might be too young to remember Pac-Man. Just find a 40-something person. They'll explain.)

Here I was, preparing a PowerPoint on thesis statements and I was not getting anywhere with the work.

If my presentation hadn't been the next day, the whole situation would have been rather amusing.

I had no idea what the creature in my keyboard would think of next.

It rather reminded me of Frankenstein's bewildered wonder of his creation. Yes, the monster was amazing ... but oh so destructive.

If we would avoid those things we know we shouldn't do, we wouldn't have such struggles.

Thankfully, a new keyboard will solve my problem.

If only Frankenstein had it so easy.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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