All was admirable and acceptable, advantageous even, that a.m. I arrived at my work area early, adhered to my agenda and had accomplished an abundance of article assembly by afternoon. And then, I had lunch: avocado salad with apples and almonds, and apricot dressing.

Upon finishing my food, I returned directly to my computer, only to discover the problem with the keys. One of them no longer functioned when pressed. I punched it; nothing. I punched down twice; still nothing. I sighed.

It was the “a.” I no longer had air, admiration, altruism, the ampersand or Amazon. I felt annihilated or I would have if I had access to the appropriate letters.

I tried troubleshooting, without success. I pulled the key from its spot to remove dust or dirt from under it; no luck. I couldn’t continue typing without the lost letter or I didn’t wish to. It hindered my morning progress immensely. I needed to restore my “A/a.”

When you lose your A/a, you know without question the time is nigh to order your new keybo*rd. Trouble is, I’m finicky when it comes to keybo*rds. You get used to the specifics of one; conforming to the new model is often testy. To further dirty the complexity of my problem, my keybo*rd is built specifically for my type of computer so picking one up from the superstore isn’t possible. It must be ordered online, which I did. But since I refused to cough up the fees for quick shipping, I found myself confronted with the dire truth of living with my non A/a condition for three to five business, 24-hour periods.

I decided to try to cope. Life would go on, so would business. Things might be difficult, would be difficult. My plight required discretion with word choice. Substitutions would be commonly needed, required even.

While waiting for my keyboard, I decided to check if there was any information online about living without A/a. It turns out nonuse of specific letters in writing is actually a thing. It’s called a lipogram. Entire books have been written using this technique, although it’s easier to avoid lesser-used letters like “Z/z” or “X/x.” A/a proves to be a bit more of a challenge.

You don’t appreciate a letter until it no longer exists. Life without A/a created a new world for me. Not a new world; the world itself continued to spin and turn, but without A/a, the earth and nature were goners. The universe, however, remained in its entirety.

Most states would cease to be without A/a. Wisconsin would be one of only 15 to survive. And they’d get to keep their beer and cheese. Thank goodness for that.

Other things to be thankful for would be we’d have Kentucky and bourbon, Tennessee and country music, Mississippi and the river. We’d keep New York, but lose Times Square. Maybe it could become Times Circle?

America would be no more.

The alphabet would of course be out of the question. Don’t even get me started.

Mom would still be mom. Dad would be “dd,” which, before the demise of A/a, had been a bra size.

Children could still go to school and study history, English and science, but math would be a void equation. No one could ace a test and a grade of “B” would be the best anyone could hope for.

Without A/a, we could drive SUVs, but not minivans; trucks, but not cars.

People could have feet, but no hands; eyes, no ears; knees, no ankles; a nose without a face to put it on.

We’d have the sun without heat, clouds without rain, wind without air.

I could go on and on. Suffice to say that A/a has fully infiltrated the English language and we’d be lost without it. Well, not lost, per se, but certainly adrift, amiss and addled.

Thankfully, after about a week, three to five business days passed and my new keyboard arrived. I set it up and typed a few words to express how I was feeling:  joyous, merry, gleeful, contented, delighted and awesome, most definitely awesome. 



Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. More columns are available at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.