Thursday, February 16, 2012

Skinny Malinsky

Once upon a time, when mail was still sent in paper wrappers with postage stamps on the front, I was a very tiny young girl. In fact, some said I was skinny.

I had knees that were wider than my calves, vertebrae that made a dot-to-dot curve on my spine.

Despite appearances, I was not anorexic or bulimic; I just burned every calorie I consumed.

But that didn’t stop other kids from teasing me [or other adults from worrying about me, but that’s a story for another day].

As often happens amongst elementary-school girls, I had a best “frienemy.” We lived in two halves of a semi-detached house and spent hours and hours playing with Barbie dolls, playing school, putting on make-up.

On the “enemy” side, we sometimes fought like cats. We screamed nasty epithets at each other, along the lines of “poopy-face!” and “nose-picker!”  (We were far too goody-two-shoes to use obscenities.)

During one of these rancorous episodes, my friend called me something that sounded like “skinny malinksy.”

Malinksy? My friend was first-generation Canadian whose parents immigrated to Canada from Scotland, bringing with them a lyric accent and entertaining vocabulary, so I assumed that’s where it came from.

Once we were friends again, I asked her what it meant. She had no idea; I must have heard incorrectly, and she could not remember what she’d actually said.

But it stuck in my head, as these things do when we are young and allow others to define us. At about the same time I learned to write a cursive signature, I started adding a symbol of Skinny Malinksy to it. It looked like this.

Doesn’t get much skinnier than that. I think I even occasionally added hair, a face and hands to the figure.

Gradually, I drew faster and more flowingly – Skinny Malinsky developed curves.

And more curves.  (It occurs to me that my signature was developing curves at the same rate I was. And the name Skinny Malinsky no longer attached to me.)

I simplified it a little.

By the time I met Steve, my emblem had evolved a little more. He thought it was an elaborate letter “g,” but couldn't figure out why I was signing my name as Simpsong. I thought it resembled an “S.” With an extra swoosh.

In any case, it stuck. It’s now such an ingrained part of my signature that I even include it on legal documents. I’m even working out a way to make it a kind of logo on my photography.

I realize it looks pretty much like a scribble. Or a snake.

But it’s me.

I recently learned that, when it comes to signature ornamentation, it could be worse. I could, like Katy Perry, include a smiley emoticon as part of my signature. Which is all well and good if you’re thirteen years old and you’re signing your bus pass, but on divorce papers?  Ouch!


  1. Jason includes a smiley at the end of his signature because he saw a news clip about people who put funny things in their signatures (like you, I guess!) and thought it would be funny to be a grown man using a smiley. He has now done it for several years, and also includes it on important documents. He loves being ironic.


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