The power of the pen

The end of the school year brings with it that dreaded animal, the school gift. I used to try being creative with them, picking out a book I thought the teacher would like, but lately I’ve just been picking up gift cards to B&N. Let ’em select their own book. So there.

It’s not that I don’t like the teachers. I do. It’s time and mental energy I lack.

But this year, I had a terrific idea. Keep in mind that most of my Patented Brilliant Ideas result in death, destruction, panic and belly-button lint.

My idea? I’d get them awesome pens.

It was just as easy to get the teachers a Parker pen at Staples as it was to go across the street to B&N for a gift card, and it cost the same. They were pretty, and you know they’re going to get used.

I was in the room when Kiddo#2 handed her gift bags to her teacher and the para. 

The teacher was delighted with the pen. The para looked confused, then told Kiddo#2 that it would be very useful, as she always needs “a pen that works.” Her thank-you note said the same thing.

That’s when it occurred to me: some people just don’t ‘get’ pens.

I’m a writer. Moreover, I’m a  hand-writer. My handwriting itself is scrawl that probably gives God a headache trying to decipher it, but I much prefer to hand-write my novels. It just feels more intimate that way, like I’m in physical contact with the words I’m recording.

And really, there’s nothing to equal the feel of a high-quality fountain pen. It’s like writing with liquid air. (Plus, all the COLORS! You can get ink in any color you want! Whee!)

My Patient Husband discovered a while back that jewelry doesn’t make my eyes light up. When he wants to give me a special gift, he looks into the Watermans or the Sheaffers.

It’s not just me. A friend (who may identify herself if she wishes) showed me her engagement ring, and I said it was nice. Then she showed me the fountain pen her intended had given her at the same time, and I gushed over it, and she gushed over it, and we kept talking about the pen, and the poor guy finally muttered something about if he’d only known, he’d have saved the money on the ring and only gotten the pen.

But then there are the folks who think a pen is just a writing implement. Clearly my daughter’s para was one of those. And I feel bad.

I feel bad for her because I gave her a cruddy gift.

And I feel bad for the pen too. Because it deserved someone who would love it.


  1. Ali

    I know exactly what you mean. The hubster got me a pretty Waterman’s pen for Valentine’s Day this year and I absolutely loved it. He even got me a bottle of violet ink.

    There is something quite real in seeing your handwriting in ink; I think it shows your mood more when you can see what your writing looks like, and you can look back and remember what was going on when you wrote what you did, because of how your handwriting looked.

  2. Jenni

    That’s how I found out that my Hunny loved me. He gave me a pen engraved with my moniker and 50,000 for finishing Nano the first year and when I showed it off at work the next day, my coworker advised me that it wasn’t just a friendship kind of gift. She was right.

  3. cathrl

    As a left-hander who smudges horribly if she writes in ink, I’d have to say it wouldn’t be for me either. I do know what you mean, though. I wail long and loud if I can’t find my favourite mechanical pencil to write with. My OH won’t be without his fountain pen, and I’ve bought him several over the years (they tend not to survive cycling to and from work in a pocket for longer than a couple of years).

    You never know, maybe the para (I guess that’s what we’d call a teaching assistant?) will try the pen and be converted.

    And…teachers’ gifts. Now there’s a happy thought which I haven’t even started having yet. Mine have respectively a month and two weeks of school left yet.

  4. Ivy

    I’ll admit to being the one with the engagement pen. John thinks it odd, but sweet.

    Pens breathe in ways that computers don’t. I can type a lot faster than I can write by hand, but the slowing down of the pen forces me to rethink, to pause and to consider. I have been known to write with fletched quills and I find this really helpful for dialog. The pause of dipping the ink to write is just about the same as the pause to draw breath to speak, and it does the same thing in terms of forming and shaping thought.

    Multiple color ink? I know not this thing. I once knew it, then I found the perfect shade of blue, in a waterproof, scented ink. Is there a such think as ink monogamy?

  5. philangelus

    Where the heck did you find a perfect shade of blue waterproof scented ink?!?

    My fountain pens have been neglected of late. There’s no excuse for that. (Remember how hard Madeline worked to get me to start using them again?) Today I got out the nice waterman and gave it enough loving that it’s writing again.

  6. ladyknight

    I love paper and pens. Paper is just so much fun to have…the first blank white page that you can put ANYTHING on! I’m not much for fountain pens (I swear I’ve got to be the only person who can screw up putting an ink cartridge in!), but I love my Pilot G-2’s. If only the ink dried sooner, I’d use them for everything!

  7. Ivy

    It’s Noodler’s Luxury Blue. I get it a and they custom scent a bottle of ink for $1. Noodler’s has a few inks that are waterproof (they call them “bulletproof”) and they write very well.

  8. Ivy

    Ladyknight and Cathrl, if you get into converter filling pens there are specialty inks designed for lefties that dry super fast.