Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bought myself a good fountain pen, and I'm going to use it.

Okay, I'll admit it. I splurge on a regular basis. I usually splurge by buying a watch. I collect those and make no apologies for it.
   This time I splurged on a pen. It's a beauty. It's the Parker Sonnet. I got a good deal on it, but it was still $93 by the time I paid the sales tax.
   Why would any sane man spend a hundred bucks on a pen?

   I asked myself that very question when I skipped over pens that cost half that much and chose this one. That's the Parker Sonnet in stainless steel. The nib (that's the part that touches the paper) is 23k gold plate over stainless steel, and so are the gold accents on the cap and clip.

I have been using fountain pens for years, for reasons explained elsewhere in this blog. I have had cheap ones, and most of them are okay. They'll get the job done.

I think like most people who spend money they have to think twice about on an object they don't really need (my definition of a splurge), I feel a little guilt (and gilt--for the wordsmiths out there) when I think about the purchase.

I didn't test the pen at Staples when I bought it and shelled out my five $20 bills. I pulled it out of the box, saw that there was an ink converter--the device that sucks the ink out of the bottle--included, and felt the balance in my hand. It's not too heavy, nor too light. Unlike some fancy pens, it doesn't slide in my hand. I can write with it for hours.

My wife bought me some fountain pens when she visited Vietnam recently. They're made for students, and they work okay. They scratch the paper--sometimes even cut through it, and sometimes they just stop writing. It's beyond frustrating. Other fountain pens can leak ink inside the cap. Some make an annoying sound when put to paper. Some come unscrewed in your pocket. Even a fountain pen from Parker that I spent $40 bucks on and like a lot can become loose. I have to tighten it before I put it to paper.

My guilt went away when I got home and filled the pen with ink. It filled smoothly. When I put it back together, the balance was perfect. Not just good, but perfect. The cap fits tightly on the back of the pen. It's not too long. It's not too short.

And when I put the pen to paper and wrote my name, I swear I heard angels sing! They were singing about my lousy handwriting, but a song from angels is a song from angels. Here's where the gold plating really pays off. The pen slides smoothly, soundlessly, even over the roughest paper.  The gold shines in the light and calls attention to the fact that it is a fountain pen, a pen steeped in tradition, and--thanks to Pelikan--a very bright royal blue ink.

The guilt, but not the gilt, went away after writing a few pages. This pen is the most expensive pen I have ever purchased, but that's okay. I plan to keep it for a very long time.

I found myself wrestling with a dilemma. I have an excellent pen. Should I keep it at home and only use it in a safe environment, saving it from harm by using it only rarely? Or should I take a risk and carry it with me so I can enjoy it wherever I am?

The dilemma lasted roughly 30 seconds. I don't believe in not using things, no matter how much they might have cost to buy. Having a fine pen is good. Using a fine pen is better. If I drop it and bend the nib--which I've done, sadly--I'll save my pennies and buy another one.

After all, it's a pen. It's a nice pen...but it's just a pen.