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Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Waterman

I am going to buy a pen today.
Oh ! Momentous news ! you say.
Well, hey, I plan on buying myself a really nice pen. Not some by-the-dozen bic or biro. I like having a special pen.
Around here, a Mont Blanc pen is the classic graduation gift, and that got me thinking about having a really nice writing instrument. I like to write, and I like to write with something very smooth and fast, proper liquid ink that doesn’t take too long to dry. I’d been through a lot of cheap fountain pens since college, but this time I figured I’d get a Good one. Not a Mont Blanc (I don’t like their style), but a pretty one.
That was ten years ago, on the occassion of my getting the job I have now. My little self-congratulations.
Lapis lazuli blue, with gold trim, a Waterman. I bought tiny six-packs of inks for it, in various colors but always ones I could read. The inks go all together in a wooden box in the spare bedroom, so I never know what color I’m loading next. Sure, some you can’t help but have an idea, but I try not to look. The best part is the 2 or 3 pages where the old ink in the nib gradually runs out and is replaced with the new color.

Two weeks ago, lounging at the bar at the foot of the mountain, nursing a beer and writing up the day’s events while waiting for the shuttle bus to show up and take me back to town, I set the pen down on the table, uncapped, when the waitress came by. While fishing for change in my pocket, it rolled off the not-really level surface, and did a nose-dive onto a rock.
Its golden nib was bent, and it writes no more.
My pen !
My deep blue pen.
I’ve been around to the various pen-knowledgable in town, and they all tell me the same story. This particular model was phased out years ago, and the nibs are not standard size. You can’t just get a new one. You have to send it to Waterman, and they’ll think about it. They’ll see what they can do. The poor nib is really bent out of shape, and the woman at one shop made it worse trying to bend it back - it can’t be fixed.
That pen was with me to Marrakech, Iceland, Romania. It’s been to deserts and beaches and mountaintops and the choking heart of the city. It’s written holiday cards and birthday greetings and thank yous and endless, endless journal entries. It’s been lost for weeks and given up for gone, but always found again.
I miss it. I’m off on vacation Monday, and I don’t want to leave home without it. I have a nice enough ballpoint (dropped from some doctor’s pocket, I found it on the ground at a meeting, the nicest pen I never paid for), but it’s still a ballpoint. I can’t write my journal with that.
It's time for a new pen.

3 comments:

Argent said...

Oh, what a shame about your pen. It's funny how we get attached to them. My writing is awful and I'm left handed which doesn't help, so I love any pen that can give my a semblance of legibility. I hope you find a worthy successor to your faithful blue companion.

EastwoodDC said...

MY sympathies - I get the same way about my mechanical pencils. May the replacement be even better!

Bagman and Butler said...

I so completely understand this tragedy. Getting just the right pen is one of the essentials of life.