Wednesday 11 February 2015

Pens and Pencils

Years ago when I was growing up, I could never find a pen or a pencil when I needed one.

Someone would call and want to leave a message for my brother or Mom and Dad and I would have to search out a pen or a pencil under all of the brick-a-brack in the junk drawer. The first one I would find was the pencil with the broken lead. Everyone found that one first, but none of us would think to sharpen it. I suspect that my dad was testing us to see just how long it would be before one of us sharpened the pencil. Just in case you are listening dad, so far it has been 47 years. Next I would find the pen that was out of ink which would drive me into my bedroom where I would finally find a pen under the homework that I hadn’t done.

When I eventually got back to the phone there was no paper to write on, so I would grab the TV Guide and scribble the message on whatever blank spot I could find. Sometime that night when I was looking to see what was on TV I would notice the scrawled message and say “Dad, a Mr. some-thing-r-other called this afternoon and wanted you to call back. The number is 444-85 or is that three, 97 or one.” Dad would just glare at me and dial the different combinations until he found the right one.

I don’t know why there wasn’t a pencil and paper by the phone. It isn’t as if the phone ever moved it sat on the phone table with an attached chair. The table even had a place for a pad and pencil. When you think about it, back then all we had to communicate with was our voice and the written word. I have no idea why there wasn’t a pencil on every flat surface in the house.

Now, I can’t look anywhere in this house without seeing a cup that is just packed with pens and pencils. Just sitting at my computer I can count seven fountain pens, eight pencils, five mechanical pencils, two sharpies, seventeen ball point pens, a tablet stylus, a pen-light and a compass just in case I need to make some perfect circles. Bear in mind that I do all of my writing (almost) on the computer. Perhaps I am planning for a power failure. These are all within reach, if I turn my chair around, there are maybe 100 pens and pencils in the desk.

I’m not going to mention the cup of pencils beside where I sit in the living room or the cup beside the phone, the small pail of pencils on top of the refrigerator and the hundreds of pencils, pens, coloured pencils, crayons I have in storage down in the basement. Did I mention the stockpile out in the garage and the handful of pens and pencils in each of the cars? Interestingly enough, there are none at all in the junk drawer. Strange..

The funny thing is that we don’t take phone messages anymore; the phone does that for us. Every now and then I will jot down an idea or a grocery list, but I could easily do that on my cell phone. I don’t really need pens or pencils, but I can’t seem to stop accidentally collecting them. None are what you would call collectable, some are garbage, but the vast majority are writing work horses.

There are a few that have meaning, the pen with bugs bunny on it that one of the kids gave me, the “Space” pen that Louise gave me for my birthday ten or twenty years ago and that cheap pen and pencil set that I gave Dad for one of his birthdays and I brought home with me after he died. Maybe all of these pens and pencils help connect me with the past when I was younger and had less need to document my life. Who knows?

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