Most writers have an odd affinity for pens. I know some who have to have a certain pen to do a certain thing. Editing this pen; ideas that; stories this. I know some who have stories about their pens. Many who collect pens. I even know a few who’ve named their pens. I know writers who write out their entire manuscripts using a pen. Then type it all in. What that says to me is I have to get fewer writers as friends. Them fuckers is weird.
I don’t take my pen love to that level. I like my pens. We’re platonic friends at best. It’s a tool. But I like the feel of a pen while I’m jotting down a snippet of dialog or funny scene that’s unfolding. Sometimes an idea will pop into my head while I’m doing something random. And knowing the old,
‘I don’t have to write this down. How could I ever forget that brilliant idea?’
Is a fools errand at best, I’m glad I have a pen with me. Even if, in the light of day, I have no fucking idea what the hell ‘snaggle tooth mumble bucket’ means the next day, I’m glad I have it. I think it’ll help with my insanity defense when I finally snap.
I’ve had a few favorite pens over the years. Pens that just felt right in my hand. The middle finger of my left hand has a callous from all the years of writing. Actually it most likely comes from holding the writing tool too hard.
I got it as a kid first learning to write. Poorly, I’ll admit. But that’s less my fault than the evil crone of a teacher I had. Being left-handed I was branded. She’d cuff me in the head, take the utility pole sized pencil out of my left hand and put it into my right calling me all sorts of devil type names.
The moment her back was turned I’d defiantly put the pencil in my left hand and clamp down. So to this day my pen holder grip is mighty. My writing suffered greatly due to those two things. A boy gets hit in the head every day when he’s trying to write, that boy tends to get a little jumpy.
And holding a pen with such ferocity tires out the hand. I’d start out writing okay-ish but by the second or third line it looks like Sanskrit. I actually had a writing professor tell me he’d fail me if I ever passed in another handwritten paper. Hey! Back then they frowned upon typewriters while riding public transportation. When else did he think I was going to get his requirements done? On my time? Silly professor.
You’d think the pen love would lessen as writing technology progressed. I mean we’re way past Edgar Allan Poe and his flaming quill or Willie the Shakes and his torn off peasant leg. Okay, I’ll admit to not knowing much about pen history. But I do like my pens. Because of how I write, on the fly, mostly illegible, I tend to have a pen with me always. The problem with that is I often lose pens.
And that’s the subject of this bit. I lost my latest favorite pen. It was given to me, as most of my favorite pens tend to, by a friend. It was a nice Cross brand pen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pen snob. I know writers who wouldn’t use a Bic if their deadline depended on it. They need a Monte Blanc at the bare minimum.
Although that’s not me, this was a fine feeling pen. I’ve had many of your classic thin Cross pens but this one had just enough weight to feel substantial without being overbearing. Wide enough where you hold it (which I think is called ‘the holding place’) so that it felt balanced in my hand. Even in my ham-handed left hand it would glide across the paper. It didn’t make my handwriting any better (‘semaphore butt chum’? What the hell was I thinking?) but it sure felt like it did.
But now it is gone and I miss it. I tend to stick pens in my back pocket and you can guess what happens to them. That’s right, they get farted on. A lot.
But they also fall out of my pockets. It doesn’t set properly or it gets hung up on a chair. I know I’ve lent them to people only to have them fail to return. I think that’s what happened with this one. I was with a screenwriter and he needed to write something down. So I, Mr. Pen At The Ready, offered up mine. At first I’m very aware that my pen is out of my possession. I track it like a sniper. But then my attention wanes. I get pulled into conversation, the game on TV gets exciting, I have to pee. Something takes me away from my pen.
And I lose it.
It’s also why I don’t have pen love. I know I’m just borrowing it’s friendship. It’ll serve me well until it’s on to muse for another. I always wish it well. It did me well and often confounded (‘transvestite Cyclops crime fighter’? Really?) so I hope it does well for whomever.
I do have an all time favorite pen. It was a marvel. It was a pen I never thought I’d lose (a fools thought, obviously) because I could put it in my front pocket. What, you must be saying, type of magical pen could one comfortably keep in their front pocket? Ah, it was a Space Pen. If you don’t know what a Space Pen is type ‘Space Pen’ into your favorite computerized search engine and begin to lose your shit.
I lost it on a musical boat ride (okay, yeah, you caught me, it was a booze cruise). The musician and I were exchanging ideas and I put my beloved Space Pen in the too shallow pocket of my shorts. I had a feeling earlier that evening about my Space Pen. Even with that premonition I was still disheartened to find my Space Pan gone. I did see it one last time (once you have your pen you can always spot it) in the stubby little fingers of that same musician.
I resisted the urge to snatch it back. Give that man a what for for he knew it was my pen he found on the deck of that boat. But I didn’t. I understand pen envy. But I also understand that pens are mere visitors. No matter the attachment you have they are merely tools to assist you in writing the perfect set of lyrics or ransom note.
But it doesn’t mean I don’t think of my Space Pen all the time.
Now if you stole my laptop I’d cave in the side of your head with an aluminum baseball bat. That fucker was expensive.