In my youth, I had a set of friends who raised the achievement bar quite high. We lived in the same small neighborhood and were in the same grade together in school. In hindsight each of these friends was remarkable in his own right, growing well into adulthood to succeed at the level one might have dared to predict back then. It can’t be a coincidence, and I believe my father was right when he repeated what his mother had impressed upon him: that we are judged by the company we keep.
One in particular has always stood out in my mind, and I must have unwittingly measured myself against him. September’s back-to-school season triggers a flashback. I’m glancing at an assignment my friend handed to the teacher. The work product stands on its own intellectual merits, I’m sure. But the font; oh, that font! I have a surge of font envy! Not only is the report typed, but the words are an IBM Selectric italic type that is so gorgeous it’s unfair.
The standard font was Courier or Gothic (photo courtesy Javier Canada), but my friend was always well ahead of the curve. He showed me the secret of his stylistic prowess, and I nearly died when I saw those interchangeable Selectric balls. Of course now the idea of changing font type or size is simple, and my recollection of the event merely a quaint memory. The idea that the company we keep can shape us, however, remains as relevant today as it has always been.