Note jotting becomes body art

By Karl Terry: Freedom New Mexico

The other morning I had the shower temperature just right and was about to get in when I glanced at the palm of my hand. Nope can’t get in yet — important notes on that left palm.

Naked, I ran out to my night stand to find a pen and scratch paper to copy down the notes and phone numbers I had scrawled on my left hand that were almost lost to soap and water.

Yes, things in the newspaper business are pretty tight these days, but the boss is still buying us notepads. The problem is I constantly get off without one. Every time I do, the voices of several former teachers play in my brain and chide me for not bringing something to write on.

Over the years I’ve become pretty good at taking notes on my own body out of necessity. Like the other night, I arrived at a basketball game only to find my notebook wasn’t in the camera bag. Actually my pen wasn’t in my pocket either, so I felt doubly humiliated. I long ago hid a few backup pens in the bag just in case mine was stolen or ran out of ink, but I still couldn’t find anything to write on.

I began taking game notes on my hand and by the end of the game pretty much had it completely covered.

At the end of one of the quarters I photographed the Floyd cheerleader squad in action. Thinking I would be sly and get a piece of paper one way or the other, I asked the head cheerleader if she could write the squad members’ names down for me. She didn’t know where to find something to write on either. I warned her she could be headed toward a life in journalism.

Finally, I did the thing we all dread the most, I asked a teacher if he had a sheet of paper I could borrow. More precisely it was the coach, whose team had just lost. He just gave me that look teachers give students when they show up unprepared and I felt like I was back in high school.

In high school, the art of writing notes in strategic places on your body was a huge benefit, especially if a big test was coming up. I practiced that art any time it was necessary.

Once, in biology class, we had a test on the periodic table planned. No one had completely memorized all those chemical signs and he knew it so the teacher made a deal with us. We could use all the notes we could put on a two-inch by two-inch piece of paper. The test would be the next day.

A buddy and I who both worked part-time at the PNT came across the perfect idea. Since he hadn’t specifically said we had to hand-write these notes, we decided to simply shrink the whole periodic chart to that size. This was in the days before copiers that would reduce and enlarge but we had a buddy in the newspaper’s process camera room who easily reduced the chart to the specified size.

When the teacher saw that we had the entire chart on our creb sheet he complimented us on