Sunday, November 5, 2017

My Signature Is a Mess

When I was nineteen years old, my boyfriend at the time told me that he had what he thought was a really smart strategy for signing his name to things.

“I just make everything after the M a squiggle,” he said. “That way no one can read it. If anyone asks, I can just say it’s not my signature.” He had a very serious look on his face as he explained this.

“So you have plausible deniability?” I said, using two words he didn’t know.

He looked confused but went with it. “Yeah!” he said.

I sat there, reevaluating my life choices. Was he really that good in bed? “Um, I don’t think it works that way,” I finally said.

“Why not?” he wanted to know.

“Why even sign in the first place?” I countered. This seemed to stump him.

I don’t remember why the topic came up, or even what, if any, specific document he’d seemed so reluctant to sign. I remember being baffled by the man’s logic, because I intuited that a signature doesn’t necessarily need to be legible in order to bear legal evidentiary power. In the U.S., at least, a wide variety of marks can count as signatory, including rubber stamps, digital signatures, a personalized symbol or even an X.

When I was young, I was conscientious about my signature in a way that I wasn’t about my love life. I wrote my signature carefully, forming each letter in cursive as I had been taught to in grade school penmanship class. Whenever I signed my name to anything I did so while looking sweaty and shaky, because I was worried that my signature wouldn’t look right and the cashier at the Circle K would think I was impersonating myself.

As I got older, my signature became sloppier and sloppier – the degeneration of my signature occurs in direct correlation to the decline of my ability to give a f&ck. You know how they say, “Correlation does not equal causation”? Well, in this case, it does.

The first casualty was the capital A in my last name. At some point I stopped making a large, round, cursive capital A and just started putting in a printed A. Then I ditched the c in my last name, making it smaller and moving it up, and then finally turning it into an apostrophe. Sometime later, I turned the cursive Ms into printed Ms and then into big squiggly lines. Meanwhile, the Es on the end of my name gradually flattened more and more, until they became a flat line. Finally, a few months ago, I was signing my name to a credit card receipt and I decided, “F&ck it, life’s too short, but my name isn't short enough," and just lopped the Es off altogether. Now my signature reads, Marjorie M’At.

I think the Rs will be the next to go.