Thursday, November 13, 2014: SigNotUre and Initials

I GOT MY new SAG/AFTRA membership card in the mail today. It’s always an issue when I have to write my brontosaurus signature on the back of any new plastic card, membership, credit or otherwise. I end up practicing on the back of a piece of paper I’ve already lined up for shredding: on it, I execute my signature several times, ’til it flows easily out of me, so I won’t blow it on the actual SAG membership card, which of course I’ve done in the past and such action has left scars.

My signature has been a source of ridicule from my family for years. Yes, it is illegible, unlike the signatures of my mother with her gorgeously chubby and curvy script, cleanly spelling out her name or of my sister Helen, whose linear, elegant, black piano-key-esque autograph almost echoes written music on white paper.

But I, the only other female in our family, have an unfeminine wipe of a signature: I start my first name, penning its capital C as coming out of the gate like some sort of tidal wave rising over the spewed-out snake of its subsequent letters, the whole word projectiled out, like old used beer. Other than the screaming C, the first letter, all the other characters in my first name aren’t even close to being recognizable as actual letters.

I open my last name with a huge whirl of an M, and then end with the cushion I create out of the Y’s under-loop, it being the very last letter of my name. In between these two curlicues, these two statement letters M and Y, like as had been with my first name, there is just a mess of a field, no comprehensible letters, instead an inky flat plane.

I’m good at framing, as I try to do with my photos, so my signature has a commanding beginning, a distinct middle and a rolled-up end. You could sit on my signature’s end, that loop, it’s solid, final and large.

My signature is three points: the first letter C, then that M followed by the Y. More like a drawing, three points, not writing. Three defining pops, three distinguishable forms.  The rest is road, flat ink, not distinguishable, not legible.

“No one can tell what your name is.” My mother squints when she sees me sign anything.

“Ugh, I’m aware you feel that way, Mom. But my name is already printed on the card, so they can tell my name.”

Because this,” I continue, pointing to the signature, while my quick glance confirms what I’ve written still looks like a scritchy map, “This is how I write my name and this is what it’s always looked like, Mom, for years.  For years.  It’s not going to change.”

My indecipherable signature is certainly consistent, so if you are the cashier who’s checking to see if what I’ve scrawled on the receipt matches what’s been inked on the back of my Amazon Points Visa Card, you’ll see it’s got to be me who signed both. My signature may be a mess, but it’s a unique and consistent mess and those three loops are hard to replicate.

And isn’t that really the most important part of a signature, most specifically as a means of identification, like a fingerprint: doesn’t it all come down to consistency? The name of the game must be regularity of product execution: your signature must always look the same every time you scratch it out. And mine always does look the same: every time I wrist out my autograph, my hand always swings out those same arcs, knowing those same sweeps: the camber never loses any humps. Even those practiced autographs for my SAG card, soon shredded, were still consistent, still had those main characteristics.

The electronic signature at the grocery check-out seems especially sensitive to these characteristics, those loops; I smash and splatter the plastic pen in circles against the blue screen after having said “credit” to the sweet pea who’s packing my bags at the Food Bazaar; I swirl out my signature.

No electronic screen has ever had any problem with my signature I keep meaning to tell my mother.

 

HOUSE OF DVF on E! is not to be missed simply because of Madame Diller herself, the shining, leeeeeeegendary Diane Von Furstenberg.

Miss DVF has spent decades not just designing dresses, hunnay, but also teaching my gender how to make it all look easy; when I was 12, I devoured the first edition of her 1976 bestseller The Book of Beauty, which I copped from the Book of the Month Club; at the time, I was shapeless, inflamed but very hopeful.  She offered hints on eating well, managing stress, taking off makeup, putting it back on.  I’ve been acquainted with all that is Furstenbergilicousness since back in the day, girl.

And Miss Diana alone is enough for me to watch this show: she enters a room like liquid gold, a contented grin never far from her wide-eyed and high-cheekboned kind face; her honeyed skin stretches her long neck and smooth shoulders, she is more dancer than grandma, always wearing a dress.

Easy to watch.