“I Love Pens” Club

One of the first American phrases my barely English speaking grandmother taught me when I was five years old, a new immigrant from the Soviet Union, was, “In America, you get what you pay for.”

I’ve seen this come true many times in my three and a half decades in this country, from the smallest purchases to luxurious ones.

I love pens; my sister knows my obsession with them. I like fluid ink ones, which spread the ink effortlessly, like rollerball pens, gel ink pens, and even old-fashioned fountain pens. I love inks in every color (except black which bores me) but I don’t like a ball point.

A few months ago my sister surprised me with a card in the mail along with a “Seven Year Pen.” For just $8.95 (plus tax!), the pen was advertised as Eco-Friendly, Swiss-Made, 7-Year Ink Supply, Lots of Fun. The graphic was red-flagged hearts, arrow and bull’s eye on a white and red pen. I applaud the graphic design on all of their pens (mustache, fox, snail mail) I noted they sell replacement cartridges for only $1.99, which means I could extend this pen for another 7 years?! [By contrast, a typical gel pen, if used every day would only last about 5 weeks.] 

“How are you liking your pen?” she asked me after a few weeks has gone by.

“It was the only pen I brought with me on my vacation,” I say proudly and secretly remember how I wished for another pen, one which wasn’t a ball point pen. One which wasn’t a rough black, as I described it. It scratches the paper rather than slides on it. It’s like ice skating on a choppy rink which is in desperate need of a Zamboni.

“It’s OK,” I admit shyly. It’s cute looking on the outside and I appreciate the hearts detail (DUH) but it writes like a shitty overworked Bic ballpoint.

“Well I got one for myself too,” she admits, “And it sucks!”

I’m so glad she says this because I’ve been thinking it sucked the whole time. It was simply a plain ball point with nothing special about it other than the sentiment (which is huge and I’m not discounting it!). I wanted continuous velvety strokes on paper but instead, it felt ordinary; like a free bank pen.

A friend of mine recently lent me a pen and her instrument stopped me in my tracks. This was an admirable tool, something you could dissect into parts like the nib, the feed, the barrel and a cap made up of a finial, insert, center band, and lip! Its weight in my hand was palpable and the pen was cold like marble. The lacquered black exterior immediately told me this was a quality product and I instantly validated it by noting the famous white snowflake logo of a Mont Blanc.

I never geeked out on pens enough to understand the difference between a 5mm or a 7mm but I know a good pen when I feel one and even though I don’t draw well, I doodle compulsively and write a few words here and there.

To celebrate the end of the 365 project, and my first book deal (it will happen) I will buy myself a Mont Blanc (maybe).

7 thoughts on ““I Love Pens” Club

  1. When I read the title, I thought it said “I love PENIS club”, which did not phase me at all. Then I remembered, you like pens to!

    I know exactly what you mean by the difference in pens. I am definitely a closet pen lover who seeks the best “instrument”. Who knew something advertised as a 7 year would be so mediocre?

    I guess sometimes slow and steady wins the race?
    And when you’re done with this project, you’ll not only get a fancy pen, but ill get you some fancy paper too…maybe ill even put them together for you!

  2. Hahaha because when Andrew went to read it last night he said, “this would be a lot better if you put an “is” at the end of “pens.” I love the pen anyway and I like all their stuff … I just wish it was a little smoother haha

  3. I have a “Mont Blanc hack” pen, and I LOVE IT. There’s a YouTube video on it, if you want me to find it for you.

    Basically- you buy a Pilot G2 pen, and a Mont Blanc refill (it comes in a set of two). You take the innards out of the G2, put the modified Mont Blanc in (the modifications are easy), and you have a completely lovely, droolworthy pen that NO ONE will steal because they think it’s a crappy G2.

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