Thursday, January 18, 2007

ETC: My Other Pen Is a Camaro

Everyone knows the urban legend behind the Space Pen, right? Allegedly, NASA spent roughly a million bucks in the 1960s to develop a ballpoint pen that could write in zero gravity. In the meantime, the Soviets used a pencil. Ba-dum-dum.

The reason why this apocryphal story leaps to mind is because, ever since reading The Shadow of the Wind, I've been wondering why I don't own a really lovely pen. (Shut up. Seriously, I've been wondering this.) And then when I'm rummaging around in my bag for a crappy rollerball, I remember why: oh, yeah, I always lose them.


Can you believe there was a time when a pen was practically sacred object, when the time it took to painstakingly construct a quill (which apparently only lasted a week before needing to be replaced) meant that you kept it safely about your person and you definitely didn't lend it to the doofus in the next cubicle?

It's not too late to reject our disposable culture and invest in a serious, grown-up writing implement. Got an extra $850 of Christmas moolah kicking around? Why not treat yourself to the little 18K gold-plated beauty pictured up top? You deserve it. And believe it or not, they still have a few in stock.

This post is a little random, I know. I'm just working through this momentary pen fixation and, unfortunately, you have to suffer a little to help me. But if you think I'm fixated, check out this guy.

21 comments:

Cap'n Ganch said...

The one thing I've noticed about "really fancy pens" is that generally ... I don't like them.

They don't come with all the little widgets and gidgets that are supposed to entice me to buy them, because they're usually solid gold/silver/platinum. And that's supposed to be enough.

I like having the cooshy finger grips, thank you very much, and if the pen spreads ink like butter on hot bread, then so much the better.

Also, it's not like I usually lose them to friends and borrowers (they aren't books after all), I usually just lose them in my car. Or my couch. Or I accidentally throw them away.

Give me a G2 any day.

Christa said...

I like fancy pens, but not the gold/silver/platinum-type ones. I like fancy fountain pens, with pretty nibs, and fancy bottled ink. These are the only pens I manage not to lose.

Uli said...

I used to go through any old pens for years and not worry too much about them disappearing etc. Then some close friends bought me a beautiful Waterman fountain pen for a significant birthday and now it virtually never leaves my side. I still have a big supply of regular old pens too, but I really do treasure the special one.

nickd said...

I had a normal, non-precious-metal Cross pen given to me once. The first thing I did was twist it the wrong way to extend the nib, rendering it unusable. Stupid pen.

Ell said...

I got one of these:http://www.jetpens.com/product_info.php/products_id/635
for my husband for $20 after reading about it on mightygoods.com. The website says it "This is claimed to be one of the top ten fountain pens in Japan, ranked even above the Montblanc 146, Pelican M600 and the Rotring 600." He seems to like it, too.

peter said...

I have a not-so-secret (anymore) fetish for Cross pens. Nothing too fancy, but simple like the Classic Century product line. I think they make great gifts...if and when the recipient won't lose it immediately. I've had, and use, the same Cross pen for the last 4 years. I had two of them, but in a devastating experience I left one of them (the one I preferred actually) in Las Vegas.

I do loan it to people, though I never let it out of my sight. And everyone comments on how well it writes.

You should get yourself a nice pen. Maybe if you had one, you would be more conscious of it and would be less likely to lose it. Just a thought.

(You'd think I sell the damn things...I don't.)

Jennifer said...

My enabler, Paradise Pens, is the place I go to for all my crack needs. I alternate a Cross Century II with a Waterman Phileas (which they sell at Office Depot). The Phileas works better than any of the more expensive fountain pens I've tried over the years, and it's the cheapest - this is due entirely to my grip, which should tell you something about price and engineering not necessarily fitting all users. Everyone says solid gold nibs are the best things on earth, but give me a cheap Phileas any day.

Now, here's the thing about fountain pens (if that's what you use - I do). Once you get one, they become like fingerprints. You shouldn't be lending fountain pens out to anyone. In older movies, you'll see someone say "use my pen" like it's a big deal - it was. One wrong pressure point and the pen would be ruined for its user, or at least take a long time to readjust. I had a ham-fisted former co-worker who trashed my old Cross Century II after he borrowed it without asking and had never used a fountain pen before (he couldn't get it to write, so he pressed even harder, and the nib wound up separated at a 90-degree angle). So never let anyone write with your fountain pen unless you trust their grip.

nickd said...

Oh, fountain pens. I used a Rotring Art Pen for ages. Loved it. Even though there were the enevitable inkages.

K. said...

I'm obsessed with pens, too, but not fancy ones- just plain blue papermate med point stick pens. My TRUE obsession is good penmanship, and these write perfectly and smoothly. It's been my experience that every fancy pen I've ever used or owned is more of an accessory than a useful writing tool- they usually write worth crap.

Isabella said...

The fancy Montblanc I received as a gift came with some kind of magic charm. I lose ALL my pens — and it's why I resisted investing in a good one myself — except this one. I even carry it around and use it regularly. It's magic.

Em said...

The customized carved wooden pen set episode of How It's Made had me sighing for days.
As it is, I get the $4.00 apiece pens...I forget what they're called, but they write really smoothly, and I will loan them to no one and keep them in my purse.
My dad had a pen with a shuttle on it, and when you tilted it, the shuttle would "take off"; and another one with two twistable ends with a map and lots of numbers for time zones and it would tell you what time it was everywhere else if you set it to whatever time it was where you were.

I've got an old scratchy artist's nib and a bottle of blue ink, and in a perfect world, I'd use that for everything and wear my blue-stained fingertips with pride.

Melanie said...

As a starving (grad) student, the "fancy" pens I look forward to cost about $6. This is a lot compared to the 50 cents or whatever it costs for a plain old Bic. At the start of each semester, I treat myself to a pretty $6 pen that writes so smoothly and weighs the right amount and has finger cushions. It's the only pen I carry around and I use it for everything. The novelty wears off in a couple of months and then it gets tossed in the "spare pens" ziploc bag. I'm a bit of an office/school supply addict; my mom and I cruise Staples and Office Depot regularly. It's pretty sad. But despite all the new and funky school supplies I can buy, I really look forward to that fancy pen (sometimes an expensive mechanical pencil for crosswords!) that I treat myself to once a semester.

NobbyNobody said...

Fixated with ballpoint pens I may be, but I only ever us the classic cheapo Bic Cristal.
As a strugging artist I couldn't possibly affort one of you fancy pens!

Thanks for the link ;)

BabelBabe said...

I have a lovely blue enameled fountain pen, that my husband bought me when I got a job promotion. It's engraved and everything, and he even bought me my preferred green fountain ink. I NEVER use it. But I do stockpile Pilot G-2 gel pens, fine point, in a bevy of colors.

Dimestore Lipstick said...

I have the Cross Century pen & pencil set in Chrome--25 years old, still in the box. It was a high school grag gift from my grandparents, but never used, because they're just too thin for me to get a comfortable grip.

My pen of choice is the Pentel RSVP (fine line, black ink). I've been using them for over ten years, and just love 'em. The perfect balance, grip, and thickness for my hands. and about $2 American for a two-pack.

And my mechanical pencil is a Pilot "Dr. Grip". Also very comfy.

Erin O'Brien said...

Whenever I hear some young thing complain about their computer. (too slow, too old, too blah blah), I say: Think you've got problems? Melville wrote "Moby Dick" with a QUILL.

Tim said...

I don't like the size and weight of a lot of fancy pens. I've had a standard silver Cross that I've used since grad school. Oddly enough, I have yet to need a refill (even though it's been ten years).

Amy Guth said...

Oh, my. I'm alittle embarrassed. I've been blogging about this pen that I love since last summer. I blogged about it so much the company emailed to thank me and quoted me on their website. Sigh... what can I say, nerds like me need good tools....?

Shawn said...

I love your pen. :) And mind you, cross pens make excellent gifts too.

Anonymous said...

I loved all the comments on pens. I've had a pen fixation for some time now and must always have one of my handcrafted Classy pens with me. I get mine from a small shop in Texas http://www.aclassypenshoppe.com
and won't go anywhere without them.

jitendra gupta said...
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