When President Obama was signing the health care reform bill, I was not thinking about the meaning of the bill or of the historical significance of the moment.
Nope, none of that high-falutin’ stuff. I was wondering just how big a mess that signature would be after starting and stopping often enough to use 22 different pens. I already knew why he was using a lot of pens.
All I wanted to know was what the resulting signature actually looked like. I gave up looking for a picture after a few days, and then unexpectedly came across it this morning while looking for something else. (Gotta love that Internet serendipity.)
I was surprised to see a very neat signature. At first glance, only the “O” has noticeable breaks in it. There appears to be a break in the middle of each bulge of the “B,” as well as between the upper and lower bulge. And presumably there were breaks between letters. I’m not sure where the rest of the breaks are.
The other thing I notice is that although I’d assumed the very expensive custom-made Cross pens were fountain pens (people my age still value fountain pens), that appears not to be the case. Note the stuttery vertical stroke on the “k” and the uniform thickness of all the strokes. What a shame. Fountain pens would have been so much more elegant.
Of course you’d plan your strokes ahead of time to make sure you used all 22 pens. And you’d practice to make sure it looked as good as possible on the historical document. (It was, after all, “a big f—ing deal.”)
Actually, the president reportedly said he didn’t practice.
Still, I thought it was interesting to see what a 22-pen signature looked like. Now that I see it, I’m wondering if maybe he had a ruled sheet of paper underneath to keep it straight, or if maybe he just traced the whole thing.
(BTW, who gets to “approve” the signature of the President of the United States?)