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A Warning to the Pen Curious

Posted in Fountain Pens

“Hi Mrs. Smith!”

“Oh, hello, Jen. How many times have I told you to just call me Barb?”

“I couldn’t do that, Mrs. Smith, you’re around my mom’s age, and that just doesn’t seem right.”

“Well, the invitation is there, Jen. You’re in your 30s, it’s OK to call me Barb if you want.”

“I’ll think about it Mrs. Smith. By the way, you know about fountain pens, don’t you?”

“I do, I grew up with them. Why do you ask?”

“A friend of mine uses them, and I’m kind of curious.”

Mrs. Smith sighs and gestures to the chair next to her, inviting Jen to sit. “So you’re interested in pens, are you? Be warned, that’s dangerous territory, dear, dangerous indeed.” Jen’s eyes pop wide, and Mrs. Smith waves away her obvious fear. “Oh, perhaps not necessarily dangerous to your life, but to your wallet, to your interests!

“Perhaps you’d be one of the lucky ones, content with just a pen or three. Always sitting at the mouth of the cave, rather than crawling in and diving headfirst down the rabbit hole. But then, they’re few and far between.

“Far more common are the poor folks who start collecting anything and everything they can get their hands on. Pens that seemed astronomically expensive years, or even months before, suddenly become justifiable purchases. They’re special editions, see. Or long-discontinued models everyone wants. Some will even tell you they’re “pieces of art.” Don’t you listen, Jen! They’re pens! Writing utensils! One is quite as good as another, if you even write in this digital age!” Mrs. Smith pauses, breathing slightly heavy in her worked-up state, eyes unfocused. Poor Jen just sits staring at her elderly friend.

“But where was I? Oh, yes, the collecting. Some folks go right on collecting. I’ve heard rumors of people with over a thousand pens! That’s more than you could use in nearly 3 years!

“Now some, some, get their heads back on their shoulders and start selling pens they grow tired of to fund their new purchases. It’s all foolish, but if you can’t help yourself, that’s at least sensible way to do it.

“Now, it’s not necessarily completely hopeless. I’ve heard stories, well, just rumors, really, that there are those who, after some time in the hobby, grow tired of it and quit entirely. Or sell most of their collection. They’ll keep only a handful of favorites that they use all the time, and rarely, if ever, buy more.

“I’ll be honest, though, Jen, I don’t know that I believe those stories. They seem highly unlikely. Believe me when I say you’re better off staying away from all that. Find a different hobby.”

Jen smiles. “I appreciate the advice, Mrs. Smith. I promise I’ll be careful. But I’d still like to know more about fountain pens.”

“You still want to learn about pens? There’s nothing I can say to dissuade you?” Jen shakes her head with a smile. “Oh. I see.” Mrs. Smith shakes her head a moment, then looks back at Jen with a smile. “Well, in that case, you’d best come inside. I’ll show you my pen collection and teach you how to care for them.”

Surprised, Jen jumps up and follows her neighbor inside, wondering how much of Mrs. Smith’s rant was from personal experience.

Of course, this is satire, a funny idea that popped into my head and I decided to run with. I hope you had a good laugh. If you, or someone you know, is pen curious, try starting with my Fountain Pen series, that links to excellent resources from various sources.


  1. David Deep
    David Deep

    I loved this! Great illustration too!

    I really identified with the part about how pens that once seemed astronomically expensive now seem like justifiable purchases. I remember being uncomfortable going over $50 for a pen. Then $100, $200… it really is a bit of an addiction.

    Of course, being “penabled” by fellow addicts only makes it worse.

    May 28, 2021
    • The illustration is an edit of a vintage anti-marijuana ad. 😀 And yes, penabling makes everything “worse.”

      May 28, 2021

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