Pen Kleptomaniac

Pilot preciseI used to experience serious pen lust on a daily basis. It was all I could do to keep my hands off of a good pen.

I used to make jokes about it when I’d hand a pen back to a friend after borrowing it. “I don’t want to be a pen thief,” I’d say, all moral and righteous, while in truth I was thinking (in the back of my head), “Sucker! If your pen was halfway decent, it’d be mine, all mine, hahahahahahahaha.”

I had a serious case of pen kleptomania for years.

The pen didn’t need to be expensive. In fact, cheapo pens were good, as long as the ink flowed well. My drug pen of choice? Pilot Precise V-7 point, with blue or black ink.

A guy much younger than myself once seduced me because of his Pilot Precise V-7 point pen with light blue ink, something I had never seen before. Later, when I emailed him to say, “Sorry for stealing your pen, ha-ha,” he wrote a long email back letting me know he’d noticed how I glanced longingly at the pen, how I kept caressing it after he’d let me borrow it, how I kept subtly offering to return it to him even while snatching it back, how I’d secretly and surreptitiously (or so I thought) secreted it in my purse.

I was a goner for him.

There was even a time in my mid-teens when I couldn’t write my novel if I didn’t have the perfect pen with, yes, college ruled paper. (Wide-ruled just didn’t feel right and you couldn’t develop good characters or plot if you didn’t have the right kind of paper to match the right kind of pen.)

A few days ago, I went looking for a good pen and came up empty. What happened? It used to be that a good pen was more important than a good boyfriend. A bad boyfriend provided all sorts of material for angst-ridden poetry, but a bad pen only produced scratches and gouges and scribbles on a reluctant piece of paper. So what had happened to all my decent pens?

And then I realized. I don’t steal people’s pens anymore and I don’t buy decent pens anymore because I use my computer 24-7.


You know what I really miss? Ink stains. When I was in my early twenties, I swear, I thought ink stains were sexy. On me, of course. (I didn’t notice whether the guy had ink stains or not.) What guy wouldn’t want to date a passionate poet with ink all over her hands? It made me interesting. Mysterious.

And I’m sure they secretly found it totally hot, but in their out-loud voice, they usually mentioned mundane things like my eyes or my rear-end, never the ink-stained hands.

In all seriousness, I do miss pens. Pilot Precise V-7 point pens with blue or black ink, that is. Do other people still use pens the way I used to—with passion and fervor? Did other people experience the same ardor for ink?

Just curious.

Comments 5

  1. PJ

    My pen of choice didn’t have to have a particular type of ink or name. It was just the style. It had to be a clickie pen. My fervor ignited upon the discovery of a pen that I could fondle and click. I would almost always, after using it, rub the smooth sides of a clickie pen and put it cross-wise on my palm to test it’s weight. Then, just as quickly, in one subconscious motion would flip it quickly into position and click it a few times to see how it felt. The sound was like music to my ears. The lightweight, cheaper, clickie pens were not so satisfying, but they clicked just the same. 10-20-30 or more clicks later it was mine. I’d find myself silently whistling down the hallway, pen in hand, clicking away to the rhythm of my steps. Sometimes I would sit in a meeting at work and have to keep putting my pen down because the clicking would get distracting to everyone else.

    That’s when I discovered those pens that you twist instead of click. These were a god-send for my meetings! Truly; it was almost as if God Himself condoned my penchant for clicking pens and gave someone the inspiration to create it just to satisfy my need to fidget with something while sitting in a room full of boring people. I could rub and twist and caress the sides of that pen to my heart’s content and never have to put it down for fear of disrupting another speaker.

    Of course, the pen still had to be useful, too, and off-shades of blue ink were the most desirable. I remember in high school having a favorite pen – one of the only ones I ever kept until it ran out of ink. It was a purple-ink pen. I used to love that pen. I almost cried when it ran out of ink. Especially because by that time I couldn’t find another one. They’re probably a dime a dozen now, but then they were rare. When I wrote short stories I always wanted to use that pen. I think I still have some of the stuff I wrote back then with it.

    Any perfect pen would of course have to write smoothly – which meant it couldn’t skip or stick or make any of those irritating scratchy sounds. And one of my least favorite things was when a pen would skip because of finger-oils on the paper. I remember throwing pens across a room if they stopped writing on the paper right where I had touched it. Nothing so frustrating ever compared. Oh, and I also liked a pen more if it was heavy. I think I used to believe that the heavier it was, the more expensive it was.

    For me, when I was growing up anything that was heavier had to be better quality. I mean, the heavier the furniture, the better the quality (solid wood pieces were better quality than lighter weight, particle board pieces). And it was generally true with jewelry, too. The more gold there was in a piece, the heavier it was and the more it was worth. Silver was heavy, as well as pewter. I had this charm bracelet that was sterling silver and it had a ton of charms on it. I think I still have it, somewhere. It weighed a ton on my wrist, but I loved it. I remember back then technology was almost always heavy, and it was most certainly expensive. These days, though, it seems like the lighter something is, the better it is.

    So, does that mean technology is moving in the opposite direction as I am (I still like heavy things)? Or, that I’m backwards in my thinking? Perhaps, but I like to think that I’m just reverting back to what’s important. Hard to say. These are highly subjective observations, and all I can expect from a pen thief (myself, that is).

    It’s a strange sort of dyslexic thinking that alters my perceptions just enough to matter and doesn’t affect my ability to read and write – only to think. Thankfully, it hasn’t altered my desire to think and to write and to be independent. I kind of like sometimes being the voice of the past (or, how about, the voice of reason) in the ever changing, never constant flux that is the world I live in. Kind of like providing shock therapy without using an electrical current that could damage the physical body at the same time it “heals” the psychological one. How does that work, anyway? Who ever thought of using a very physical thing that could potentially and permanently kill the very thing it is trying to heal? And I thought my thinking was backwards…. Amazing.

    I had a collection of pens in my desk drawer that would compete with a pen manufacturer. I got so into pens that when I started a home-based business many years ago I ordered a whole box of clickie pens to give out with my company name and number on it. I hand-picked the pen and the ink and the words. The weight was good, too. The price was just right….

    But alas, you are so right when you talk of change and growth and moving on. No, I didn’t sell my soul for the price of a pen. In fact, I no longer have an urgent need for clickie pens. I still have a sufficient supply, though I find it consistently more often disappearing with a school-age child in my house always losing them or leaving them somewhere. (It’s a sad day when you realize your child shares your fetish and you have now become the loser of the pen to the more youthful pen-monger.)

    I too, have been lured away, captivated by the clicking of the keyboard as I wrote using a newly acquired PC. My father brought me a brand new IBM (in 1981 they were heavy and big and had the old, noisy keyboards) to work on my writing and college papers with. Imagine having the ability to listen to the clicking while I was writing, and not just between inspirational moments! Oh, the ecstasy! I think I learned how to type fast because the alluring sound of the keys mesmerized me, flowing forcefully, like an opera through Mozart’s mind. Maybe I like to write so much now just so I can hear the sound of the keys clicking away, on and on, into oblivion. But, there I go again, digressing….

  2. Jess

    You know, did those clickie pens do your business any good? 🙂 Just curious. I’m thinking that pens might be a good way to promote yourself as a writer, lol. Hand them out at conferences…hand them out at book signings…But then, do they have to be just the right pen?

  3. Shell

    Oh, my sweet Jess, I am laughing so hard that my stomach is ready to toss up the ice cream I just ate.

    I, too, suffer from pen obsession. No, you don’t understand, we’re talking SERIOUS pen obsession. I test them. I take them. I hide them in my drawers. I never let people use my “good” pens unless I can watch them closely and demand them back almost before they’re finished using them.

    If someone dares try to make off with one of MY pens, I will run, and I will tackle, I will pull hair and gnash my teeth.

    When my brother and I were young, and living in Odessa, Texas, we became an unstoppable klepto team. We would run across the street to the local convenience store, and buy bunches and bunches of of individual Bazooka bubble gum pieces (That was back in the day when they were three cents each, of course). With our tiny hands, there was no possible way we could carry all of our treasures, so it forced the clerk to give us a paper sack. We would say our polite thank you’s, exit the store, then re-enter a few minutes later, exclaiming that we had forgotten to get something.

    My brother hung near the front of the store, while I would take the paper sack and go to the pen section of the store and pack in a few of those awesome Erasermate pens, plus a few Hershey bars and whatever else I could stuff in the sack. We always found a way to tell the clerk that the store didn’t have what we were looking for, and would exit again, running back across the street to the safety of our apartment.

    I still have a deep affinity for Erasermate pens, however, my new drug pen of choice far exceeds the blotchy writing and distinct smell of erasable ink.


    You can find this pen in blue, black, or even multi-coloured packs at Staples, but so far, that’s the only store I know of that carries them. Smooth, rich, sexy ink….. I’m telling you….. just one fix is all it takes.

    Anyway… so glad to know that you are mental like me. It’s so refreshing. hehehehehehehe

    I love you, Jess!!

  4. N00b

    i feel so sorry for you

  5. Jess

    Obviously, NOOb, you have never experienced the joy of good pen.

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