Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks – digested read
‘After we came back from the moon, we all went home for some nice apple pie. Whoopety-doodah-day’
Sun 22 Oct ‘17 00.00 BST
|Illustration by Matt Blease|
Three Exhausting Weeks
Anna and I were rummaging through some old typewriters in a secondhand store as a gift for MDash, a sub-Saharan immigrant who was about to become as American as Apple Pie.
“Hey, Gumpy,” she said. “Let’s go out on a date.”
Now let me tell you that Anna is a triathlete with the body of a triathlete, while I like to sit around doing not very much and thinking nice thoughts about how lovely everything in America can be.
On the first day together, she put her hand inside my pants. And I put my hands inside her pants. Things progressed pretty quickly after that. Whoopety-doodah-whoppety-day!
“You’re a nice guy, Gumpy,” she said. “But you have to shape up a bit. Pack a bag, you’re coming with me on a business trip to Fort Worth.”
After we had sex, I began to feel a bit unwell. “I think I’m getting a cold,” I said. Anna told me I needed to take some vitamins and release the toxins through my feet. I thought I’d take some ibuprofen.
I did get better eventually but on the 21st day of our relationship Anna said, “I don’t think this is going to work out.”
“Neither do I,” I replied.
But we stayed friends. Which was nice.
Christmas Eve, 1953
Virgil had walked up the garden path that was lined with snow. “Happy Christmas Eve, everyone,” he said. “Happy Christmas, Eve,” his family had replied. Once he had taken his coat off, Virgil got out his old typewriter and got his kids to write their letters to Santa before sending them off to bed. “Make sure you go to sleep or Santa won’t come,” he told them before settling down to wrap presents with his wife.
Just before bedtime, the phone rang. As it always did on Christmas Eve. “Hi, Bud,” he said. “Would you believe it’s 10 years since Christmas Eve, 1944?”
“Actually, it’s only nine years, Private Ryan.”
Bud and Virgil had landed on the Normandy beach at exactly the same time and had witnessed many of their comrades get killed. Which wasn’t nice. They had fought through France together until Christmas Eve 1944 when a shell had blown Virgil’s leg off. Bud had carried him to the medics. Which was nice.
“Are you sure you don’t want to visit?” Virgil asked. Bud declined. “We’ll speak again next year then.” Virgil hopped up the stairs and went to bed. It was great to be an American. Though he was sad about his fallen comrades who would be missing Christmas.
Our Town Today with Hank Fisek
So many rumours here today at da paper! Some people say the Tri-Cities Journal might go digital. But I much prefer typing my column on an old typewriter. Which is nice.
Alan Bean Plus Four
I can’t remember whose idea it was to go to the moon. Almost certainly not mine, as I am a bit dopey. It was probably Anna’s as she is the most driven woman I know. She is a triathlete with the body of a triathlete. MDash bought the food, I bought the capsule off an old woman for $100 – making sure I got a typewritten receipt – and we took off from Steve Wong’s back yard.
“Whoopety-doodah,” I yelled as we went into orbit.
“Whoopety-doodah-day,” everyone else yelled in response.
I had named the capsule Alan Bean after the lunar astronaut whom I had once met buying toothpaste in a branch of Walmart in downtown Oakland and we all felt very cosy as we went to the moon.
Anna checked the Lunar Trajectory app and said, “Time to press the button for lunar orbit, Gumpy.” Much to my surprise the dark side of the moon wasn’t dark at all. It was just that we never got to see it from Earth. The so-called dark side looked much the same as the bright side.
“We’ve all been to the moon in Alan Bean,” I said to the crew who picked us up in the Pacific.
“That’s nice,” they said.
Then we all took the bus home in time for some nice apple pie.
Go See Costas
Assan was pleased to have escaped communist oppression in Bulgaria. Even if he had had to flee the country on a boat without his typewriter. He had worked hard on the boat because he knew that’s what American people would expect of him.
After he had landed in New York, he had met a fellow refugee who told him a man called Costas would give him a job in his restaurant.
“Can I have a job, please?” Assan asked. “No,” said Costas.
The next day, Assan went back and asked again. Costas still said no. On the third day, Assan returned again.
“I suppose you still want a job,” said Costas.
“No, I just want a coffee.”
“Well, tough. You can have a job.”
Assan smiled. Persistence and hard work paid off in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Our Town Today with Hank Fisek
I still like writing on my typewriter, even though I’ve been sacked.
Steve Wong is Perfect
Anna, who is a triathlete and has the body of a triathlete, MDash, Steve Wong, who worked in Home Depot, and I all went bowling. One thing I haven’t told you is that Steve Wong used to be a champion bowler.
That evening he threw 60 perfect strikes. A TV station got to hear about this and offered him $100,000 if he could throw another 60 perfect strikes.
“I don’t know about this,” he said. “I only like bowling for fun.”
Anna persuaded him the money could be useful so Steve Wong agreed. After throwing another 60 perfect strikes and collecting the check, Steve said it hadn’t been fun and he was only going to bowl for fun from now on.
“You haven’t mentioned a typewriter, Gumpy,” said Anna.
Digested read, digested: Common Hype.