Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pencil Thin Mustache

Some people spend their lives searching for that perfect, special someone. Me, I spend a lot of time searching for the perfect writing instrument.
The right pen actually helps me write. It enhances the mood. If the words are a physical pleasure to write and I like the way they look on the page, then it helps me care about what the words say.
Before I had kids, quit my full-time job, and achieved international fame for writing this blog, I used to be a graphic designer. I studied graphic design just before the industry became computer driven. Perhaps that's when the search for the perfect pen began.
Sometimes when the perfect pen is not available, the next best thing is a well-sharpened pencil - a #2 soft.
The perfect pen varies from job to job. For example, if I need to write a check, it's blue ink. If I'm correcting a story draft, it's red ink. For journal and letter writing, it's a black felt tip.
There's really no good reason to use plain black ink. All those pens should just be put back into the office supply closet to be used by someone with lower ink standards.
The writing line has to be even and unbroken. What ever happened to those "erasable" pens that came out back in high school? You could erase it sure, but you never got a consistent line, it was always getting broken up; and if you rubbed the paper sometimes the ink would just flake right off. Good riddance I say.
The thickness of the pen body is important. It has to fit comfortably in the hand. Not many do. Again, it depends on the job. The pen that's kept inside the checkbook can have a very thin body, that way it stays put without making the checkbook too bulky. A pen that's too thin eventually gets uncomfortable in the hand because you have to grasp with too much pressure to keep a hold of it. But no novels are being written with the checkbook pen so it doesn't matter, whereas a comfortable pen is critical if one is about to sit down and pen a letter to a distant friend.
Remember the old stationary store on Main Street where you could buy individual felt tip pens and markers? There were lots of them to choose from, in all sorts of colors and thicknesses. They were all on display so you could test them out and see how they felt in your hand before making that crucial final decision and plunking down 79¢ for a LePen. I loved standing before the seemingly endless selection of felt-tip markers. Now we have to buy pens in packages of 10 or more, all exactly the same, all hermetically sealed. "Little Boxes" as Pete Seeger would say.
Make no mistake, I'm very attached to my computer and a die-hard Mac enthusiast, but there's no tactile pleasure or satisfaction in the perfect keyboard.

song: Pencil Thin Mustache • artist: Jimmy Buffett

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember that store, I loved standing in front of the reams of paper that you could buy by the piece in all the colors of the rainbow.