Saturday, February 12, 2011

Longing For Love With The Perfect Pen

Carolyn J. Rose:  Years ago, when I was in high school, my grandmother gave me a fountain pen for my birthday. It was dark blue, as fat as a cigar, and fit my fingers perfectly. I wrote reams of journal pages with that pen, pouring out my teenage angst, making thick strokes and thin, creating letters that slanted right or left or stood at attention, letters that flowed into each other or claimed their own spaces.
            I loved that pen. I replaced the nib twice. When I lost it at college, I searched and sulked for days. I’ve never had another like it, never again fell as hard for a writing implement or loved one so deeply.           
      Yes, I’ve had fountain pens since then, but none had the same feel. They were too skinny, too top-heavy, too prone to clog up or leave blotches on the page. I tried to like them, tried to make myself care. I bought them ink in bright and exotic colors, I carried them along to work and on vacations. But the thrill just wasn’t there. After failing to replicate my first love with a slim blue one—a gift from my husband that I’m sure he paid too much for—I abandoned my quest and went for variety over fidelity, experimentation over commitment.
            For a time, I flirted with ballpoint stick pens, the ones that have an eraser on top and at first glance look like pencils. Then I went for pens with caps. I liked the feel of that bit of extra weight on the top. But too soon I was seduced by felt-tips in a host of colors and then lured by fat and rubbery pens with points that clicked in and out. Lately, pencils have caught my eye—number two yellow ones with sharp points.
            Granted, I spend most of my time tapping my fingers on a keyboard instead of wrapping them around a pen or pencil, but when I’m plotting or making notes for revision, I work with a yellow pad and a writing implement.
            Writing with a pencil lets me erase as I reconsider. Using every other line, gives me space to insert other additional ideas. Beyond that, there’s the feel of a page crisscrossed with pencil marks, and the rumpling riffle pages make when I turn them. I think I’m as infatuated with that sound and feel as I once was with my fat fountain pen.
But I still long to caress its sleek sides, to polish its nib, to revel in its strong strokes.
If it comes back, I promise I’ll never ask where it’s been or with whom.

            If you’ve ever had a romance with a writing implement, leave a comment and tell me about it. Just remember, this blog is rated PG, no kinky stuff, please.


  1. As fat as a cigar. WHAT a great simile. I could see this pen the whole way through your post.

  2. This made me sad!
    To have had THE perfect pen and to lose it and still be missing it is sad!
    I am constantly browsing the Levenger catalog and mooning over pens. Just when I think I've talked myself into splurging, I then get confused by them all and end up not buying one.
    Have you looked at Levenger for a "fat as a cigar" pen??
    I really want you to have a pen you love as much as the one your granny gave you.

  3. I too am a pen (or writing implement) fanatic. I have my favorites in each category, fountain pen, rolling ball, ballpoint, felt tip, you name it. But, my thinking pen, the one I use to write with most of all is my Waterman fountain pen. It is not as big as a cigar but it is nicely rotund and blue lacquer with hints of clouds. It is funny to see people respond to my use of a fountain pen, my students have begun to buy them and I've had people stop meetings to ask "Are you taking notes with a fountain pen?" There is something about the flow of ink and the feel of the nib on the paper.
    Paper, that's another thing... When you write with a fountain pen you find that you spend a bit more money on your paper because they just deserve one another.
    I tried a Levenger fountain pen, the Gallileo, before I bought my Waterman. I found that the Gallileo clogged up and wouldn't work. I went through three exchanges before getting on that wouldn't stop up on me but even that pen only lasted less than a year. I've had my Waterman for three years with no problems. My advice is to check out the Watemans and Mont Blancs and even Waterford. And enjoy!

  4. Thanks for all the advice - and all the nudges toward splurging on a pen. I confess that I've been browsing on-line stores and lusting after several. I've even found a few that look a lot like the one I lost.

  5. I cannot speak of the pen I lost. That heartbreak has not healed. I can, however, share a picture of the pen I included in a manuscript. It's a Grayson Tighe fountain pen. In the story an attorney held it out to his opponent. She wanted to grab it just to hold one. But she wasn't signing anything!

  6. You are oh, so forgiving. I'd toss the pen out, ink and all, if it dared to come back. And I'll bet the hand that wrapped around it after you did not love it at all.