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An ongoing search for pens that actually work

Sometimes you just have to use what you have on hand.

In this case it was a pencil with barely enough lead to write one letter of the alphabet let alone an entire line that constituted a checkbook ledger entry.

Better Half noticed the pencil scratching in a routine state-of-finances assessment, i.e., checking on my checking activity.

“You didn’t use a pen,” he casually mentioned the irregularity.

“I couldn’t find one,” I confessed of my inability to track one down, what’s more of a rule than an exception most of the time.

Imagine not being able to find a write-worthy pen, instead only ones in varying degrees of uselessness, usefulness, inklessness.

Hard to believe that a writer would be without a staple of the trade.

And yet, our household and my purse share that same shameful common denominator — having a pen when you need one.

Make that a working pen. You know, the kind that have an ink level that flows and doesn’t blob on the paper or your skin.

They’re a luxury it would seem, especially if I’m talking on the phone, wanting to make a note of something so I gesture wildly to Better Half and use sign language to indicate I am in dire, desperate need of a pen, pretty please.

That begins a mad scramble for one — a fast scouring of the kitchen table where surely there’s one in plain view or perhaps hiding there, but no, there isn’t.

How about in a drawer — yes, there are tons in there, which begins an exercise in pen-potential futility as Better Half does the scribble test on two or three or 20, all of them drier than the Sahara.

Or how about the pen-pencil can where all writing utensils are jammed together, awaiting the opportunity to do what they do best, to leave ink behind and communicate a message.

Of course, that begs the question — why keep such a stash of pens if they don’t really have any ink left in them?

I used to think pens got a second wind, like tired people who drink a cup of coffee and suddenly feel rejuvenated by the caffeine consumption.

Or maybe we’re pen hoarders.

Some of our pens, after all, are kind of old — from election years bearing the names of candidates who not only have been out of office, but out of commission — permanently.

Or it could be landfill guilt, not wanting to throw anything or everything away.

When I don’t really need a pen, now that’s when I find a really, really good one — in between the couch cushions, hanging out in the cracks with loose coins — what I consider as my retirement fund.

Sometimes people call me at the office and need an address or an e-mail, and when I offer to provide it, they say something very familiar — “Wait a minute, let me get a pen, something to write with.”

Then there’s this l-o-n-g pause, at least in waiting-on-the-other-end-of-the-line time.

They can’t find a pen. Or a pen that works, the caller will apologize.

I feel their pen pain. Honestly.

Sometimes they get lucky and find a pencil with just enough lead for the job, and that’s OK.

Sometimes you just have to use what you have on hand.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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