Some of you know that I'm reading the new Cross book by Andrew Vachss. Sad to say, that's not the topic of tonight's Goodnight, Fuckers. The Cross in the title of this one actually refers to the brand of pens.
You see, over the weekend, I found myself in an office supply store, mostly because I needed to pick up paper and a pen refill. Ordinarily, when I'm done with a pen, I just toss it. However, the pen in question is special. I worked for almost 10 years at the Elmhurst Public Library (the library from my old forgotten column, Tales from the Library--I'm pretty sure they can't sue me now), and my reward for hitting the five year mark was a pen. It doesn't sound very majestic, but it's actually a wonderful Cross pen, one of the best I've ever owned. Whenever I have something important and official to sign, I use the EPL pen. It's old fashioned, in that you can buy refills for it, which is what I was doing over the weekend.
However, while I was in the store, matching up the old filler with a series of new ones, I saw something that intrigued me. Did you know that some major retailers are still selling fountain pens? I'm not talking about regular stationary stores, like the one I used to go to in downtown Elmhurst when I was a kid--is that even still there? I'm talking about the Offices: Depot and Max. I can't imagine they make much money off of such sales, but just after I found the proper refill for my EPL pen, I saw it there, complete with a booklet on how to use a fountain pen.
For $50+, I could have bought it. Fuck knows I wanted to. The temptation almost overwhelmed me, because who the hell writes with a fountain pen anymore? They're so impractical, it's ridiculous. But the very idea sounds cool.
I should probably mention at this point that for about a semester in college--back in about 1998 or 1999--I spent an inordinate amount of time taking notes in class with a quill pen. It's a stupidly pretentious thing to do, and I couldn't admit that to myself until just a few years ago. Yeah, I know, it was a cry for attention. A friend of mine called me out for that reason specifically, but again, I couldn't admit that back then, not even to myself. But he was right.
However, even though it took me that long to realize how stupid I was, I still stopped using the quill long before I could face my own stupidity. Why? Well . . . using quill pens are stupid. I understand that there are a few purists out there who use them for specific things, and that's fine, but quills are incredibly inefficient. Every few seconds, you have to stop so you can refill the pen. That's not good in a high pressure situation. It's not good for taking notes, either. Keep in mind, I went to college in a day when the internet was in its infancy. We didn't have iPads to help us out.
Fountain pens might not be as bad as quills, but they're still pretty inefficient. Why the fuck would I be tempted to buy something that pricey for something that a cheap Bic would do ten times better? Because . . . fuck. I'm still crying for attention. Why else would I do a nightly blog like this?
Even though I know I would get much more value out of a common, ten-cent ballpoint pen, I still can't help but lust after that Cross fountain pen. Maybe it's more than that cry for attention. Maybe it's a desire to do something different from the rest of my peers. I suspect I know a couple of people who might use a quill pen for calligraphy purposes, and that's fine. But no one else does and for good reason. The same for fountain pens.
Still. Every day that has passed since the weekend, I have felt the urge to go back and get that fountain pen.