Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One Tough Pen!

I love my fountain pens.

I really love this tough pen! It's tough, and I mean this baby is (literally!) road tested. Parking lot tested, actually. I mean, this bad boy has almost a mile on it the hard way...
My Parker Urban has dings and scratches. Badges of honor.
   I bought the fountain pen in the photo with my first royalties check, and I got attached to it quickly, in no small part because it was my little gift to myself for accomplishing my life-long dream of getting paid for my writing. It's not Parker's most expensive fountain pen, but it's a good pen. It's hefty, and well-balanced. The black finish covers a brass metal cap and barrel.
How Did The Pen Get Mileage?
     I carried it in my pants pocket with my car keys for about a year and a half, and the finish on the pen (the paint over the brass) was showing some signs of wear--namely, small flakes of brass shinning through. Some of the gold plating had worn off on the clip and end of the cap.
   Then one night, one cold January night, I was in a hurry to get in my car. I pulled out my keys and heard something hit the ground. In my haste to get the hell out of there, I didn't look for whatever fell out.
   Sure enough, when I got home I didn't have my trusty fountain pen. I tried to deny that was what fell out of my parking lot that late January night, but I was pretty sure that's what happened. I looked for it, but to no avail.
   The pen is heavy, and I like that about it. I really like that about it now that I know what it went through.
   There's a shuttle that takes us from the employee parking lot to the restaurant where I work. I told the driver I lost my pen in the parking lot, and he said he would keep an eye peeled for it. Although I believed he would do just that, I didn't harbor much hope of ever seeing my poor pen again.
   There was a thaw, and I looked for my pen. Nope. I thought it probably went down a storm drain, or had been picked up by someone. I hoped that if someone found it, they would enjoy that good pen. February came, and I purchased another fountain pen. It was of Chinese manufacture, and it's a fairly decent, but cheap pen. The one I lost was metal--brass--and constructed like a tank. The cap stayed on. The nib was screwed on tightly and didn't come loose unless I wanted it to.
   February turned into March. Snow turned into rain, and back to snow, to more rain, and finally sunshine.
   Remember the shuttle driver who said he would look for it? I saw him on Easter and he asked me to describe my pen. He interrupted me when I started to talk about it...and gave a better description than I had given him!
   My friend the shuttle driver found my pen--at the far end of that huge parking lot--on Good Friday. From the end of January to the end of the first week in April, my pen kicked around, was kicked around the parking lot in all kinds of weather. Between, or under, the wheels of cars. A snow plow probably took that pen all over the lot until my friend the shuttle driver--who said he would, and did, look for it--spotted it and picked it up.
   When he handed me my pen today, I pulled off the cap to see if the nib was undamaged. I wrote my name on piece of paper, delighted to find that it not only wrote, but after all this time in all that weather, it still had ink! The paint is a little more scratched, and there's more brass visible under the black, but the important part is still there. The pen still writes like it just came out of the box.
   For a while I wondered how I would go about painting it black again, but my wife thinks I should let the scars of the paint job be scars of war. A survivor's scars. A bit of a badge of honor for the writer's instrument that came home to Poppa!
   I think I'll do what she suggests--nothing. I'll let my Parker Urban be my beat up, functional, sentimental writer's pen. A writer's pen should have some scars, don't you think?

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