A new pen for the box

A long-forgotten cache of writing implements opens up a whole world of options — if they don’t go missing

WESTMINSTER WEST — When I retired recently, my former employers gave me a pen. I hope I don't lose it.

I really love pens, yet I'm an expert at losing them.

Lately, I've been writing with an old Cross pen that still works after having been stored in a box for 20 years or longer. I lost that one a few weeks ago and looked everywhere for it.

I crawled around on my hands and knees, I removed cushions, I rolled back carpets, I stuck my hand bravely into unexplored spaces under furniture, I moved the computer and all its attached accessories and myriad tangled wires - all without success.

I gave up on it and resorted to the free pen from the bank - not to belittle the pen from the bank, which is a very nice pen that writes smoothly and doesn't blob.

* * *

I have a large collection of pens in that same box, which my daughter and I came across while trying to make some order in what used to be her bedroom. The room has turned into a place for storing stuff that I don't use but can't bear to get rid of. Many people have such a room and probably wish they didn't, as do I.

The box has mostly vintage pens with character, and floaty pens. The Cross pen was old, or at least old-ish - not as old as some that don't work anymore but that I've still kept, or maybe about the same age as this pen developed for space travel that writes without gravity. Or this three-color pen that can retreat or extend either red, blue, or green ink tubes for colorful effects.

There are pens with advertising, pens to be dipped into ink, refillable pens with a mechanism to suck ink into a rubber bladder (probably now disintegrated with age); pens whose tips go in and out by clicking the end cap; pens that eject by twisting the barrel.

Also in the mix are metal pencils, whose lead advances by twisting the upper barrel. Extra lead replacements are stored inside the barrel.

One of the pencils has a small protrusion on the top with a hole through it, and through the hole is a silken cord. The pencil is brass. It's tiny but with good heft. My theory is that it was a pencil from a department store, from the era when clerks wore them around their necks, kept them at hand to write out sales slips.

* * *

The vast majority of these pens, however, are floaty pens. I'm pretty particular about my floaty pens. I want the floating part to fit into the idea of motion, not just display something floating back and forth for no particular reason.

There's the Ben and Jerry's pen, where scoops of ice cream float down onto a cone; there's the New York City pen with a helicopter flying to the Statue of Liberty; there's the gardening pen, with a sunflower growing taller and taller; there's a pen with a spacecraft floating to Saturn; there's the Chandelier Drive pen with a car driving through a giant sequoia; there's the San Diego Zoo pen with a truck pulling a cage full of exotic animals.

There's the pen with the cow entering a barn on one side as a hamburger emerges from the other; there's the pen with Grandma Moses sitting and waiting as her thoughts go out, asking for mail; there's the Boston Science Museum pen with a rocket flying to the moon.

There's the Brooklyn Bridge pen with cars crossing; there's a Heinz bottle pen with ketchup spreading on French fries; there's a pen with Doctor Who entering the Tardis; there's the pen with da Vinci's Adam, finally making contact with God.

I know I have many more, and a couple of them are nudie pens - ones you tilt to see someone's clothes come off. I had one of those when I was a kid and prized it.

Maybe that's where my love of pens began.

* * *

I ordered a used Cross pen from eBay in hopes that the act of getting another would spur the lost one to reappear, but that trick didn't work.

It didn't even work when the pen arrived in the mail. It was a true mystery.

And then, finally, I pulled out my journal to do some writing, and there it was, closed within the journal's pages. (I know - a bad way to treat the journal's binding, but I'm thoughtless that way.)

How nice to have an old friend back.

* * *

And now, here from my colleagues of 34 years, a brand new pen! It's rose gold with the top half of the barrel stuffed full of tiny faceted pebbles of simulated diamonds that sparkle and glitter.

The tip emerges by twisting the top, like the Cross pen. It came in a black velvet bag along with two refills in another bag to match. Writing with it, I can feel the ink emerging like silk - it felt as though it could almost write by itself.

The circumference is perfect for comfort. I can't figure out why in place of a pocket clip it has only a gold protuberance. Maybe it's a lady's pen, meant to be carried in a purse rather than a pocket, where it would need anchoring.

But I won't be taking it anywhere - it's something I surely don't want to lose.

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