I have a confession to make, and it’s one I’ve not told many people. I love fountain pens, and there have been consequences.
I’ve got nimble hands, which is useful in my line of work (as a neuroscientist). I first learned I had a gift for fine motor ability when I was 3 years old and figured out how to tie shoe-laces just by watching my mom do it. I was able to do it in one try.
Now, here’s where it goes all wrong. I got prideful. I forgot I had this gift, and when you have a talent and misuse it with things it’s not meant for, the result is humiliation or worse. In my case, it was worse.
I had become very good at twirling pens between my forefinger and middle-finger, sort of like a cheerleader’s baton, except with a small writing instrument. I’ve done it well, and back in high school, I was a master.
At that time, I also discovered fountain pens. Oh, what a cool little toy. You pull a fountain pen out of your pocket to take notes in English class and you’re a brand new person. You are different–when I reflect on this now, however, it was kind of an odd-ball thing to have–but I’m older and more mature (yes, I am!) so I have the freedom to smile at these memories.
I was sitting in English class and was listening to a lecture, but not really paying attention, twirling a pen around. Spinning and spinning, like a smoker absentmindedly tapping ashes into an ashtray. You see, I was practicing. Always practicing for some big show. Of course, I guess some shows aren’t meant to be shown.
Someone turned, maybe to pass a love note to their neighbor and glanced at me, then laughs. But it wasn’t a laugh. She was choking like it was a burst of laughter, only repressed.
I realized I was twirling a fountain pen. And it was uncapped! I felt something wet on my face, my neck…. My hand came away with blue smudges when I tried to feel what it was.
My English teacher unmercifully asked in front of thirty-or-so of my peers if I needed to step outside and use the bathroom. Well, being in the back (I liked sitting in the back of the class) I had to walk through the aisles, past several occupied desks, and across the front of the room by the blackboard to the exit. I could hear the laughter, giggles and whatever muffled jokes were being told right outside in the hallway.
I thought it was game over when I arrived at the bathroom. I would just take my time, and slip back into the room unnoticed. Nope. I was punished a second time.
The volume of laughter, ridicule and hilarious comments increased when I came back into the classroom. Apparently, I had scrubbed myself so hard my skin had become red and splotchy; in exactly the same locations as the worst of the splattered fountain pen ink.
I had learned a big lesson that day.
Fountain pens are fun, but must be handled with care and respect. Cap ’em when not used for writing!
- Ah, The Hipster Fountain Pen! (mjmonaghan.wordpress.com)
- Researchers deconstruct the physics of writing with a fountain pen (physorg.com)
- Being Vintage (thefuzzymind.wordpress.com)