“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
That’s an English-language pangram, that is, a phrase that uses all twenty-six letters of the English alphabet at least once.
I never hear this phrase without thinking of my friend Larry from high school. We sat next to each other in typing class. Our tables were arranged in groups of two, and we had to pound the keys of our manual typewriters with the kind of force people use today only when software isn’t working correctly. The fox phrase was one we typed over and over to help us develop our keyboarding skills.
Most of the typewriters had blank keys so that we’d learn by touch and not sight, but my typewriter keys had the letters printed on them. Larry’s did not. My speeds were always faster than his. One day in the last seconds before Mrs. Jones called, “Begin!” on a typing test, Larry whispered, “I’d like to see how fast you’d type on a Helen Keller.” I laughed so hard I had to put my head in my arms on my typewriter to keep from disturbing the rest of the class. His speed was definitely faster than mine that day.
The Adventures of Katnip: 53