Correction Fluid

Correction fluid: (n) an opaque, quick-drying fluid for obliterating handwritten or typewritten matter.

As I read the definition, I smile a bit over the word “obliterating.”

If you didn’t live through the liquid paper or white-out phase of office business done with a typewriter, you missed a juncture in time when creative effort was often made to try to cover a mistake, when typing the entire letter over again might have been quicker.

First and foremost—for a long time, it was just white correction fluid. This meant if you were typing on paper that was white, and by the way, preferably twenty funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
pound, you might have a chance, if you used the brush sparingly, of covering up your typing mistake and having the letter look as if it had never been sullied.

But unfortunately, if you worked at a business where stationery was used, with a higher quality paper which sometimes had a tint, then you had a carnival of difficulties.

First, the heavier paper took your typed letter or word deeper into the texture, which made it much more difficult to cover it up with correction fluid.

Then—guess what? White correction fluid on pale blue stationery does not avoid the appearance of a mistake, but rather, advertises it.

So, they came up with colored correction fluid. But as you probably would guess, matching the color was extremely tricky.

I had a friend who was so adept that she could mingle two different colors of correction fluid to get the exact color of her company’s stationery. Then, after twenty or twenty-five minutes of fussing with the “cover-up,” passing the letter around the office to see if anybody noticed the use of the correction fluid, you would tentatively fold it up, put it in an envelope and send it off.  Then the next time you talked to the recipient of your correspondence, they would make some sort of joke about how the correction fluid had not totally dried—so the letter stuck together.

It was one of those ideas that seemed really smart until it was actually put into practice and it became very complicated to pull it off and still look professional and error-free.

Thank God for the arrival of the computer, where you can hit the back space, and nobody ever need know your office-place iniquity.


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