My New Pens

So earlier this month one of my most favorite fountain pens died. I think I killed it: twisted the piston fill too hard. It jammed. When I tried to unjam it, something broke.

pens & blotter All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again, and I couldn’t fix my pen either.

Hope didn’t spring eternal, but it did froth and bubble for a while. I Googled “Pelikan pen repair” — the broken pen was a Pelikan 200 — and corresponded with an authorized Pelikan pen repair outfit.

My injured pen, it seemed, could not be easily or cheaply fixed.

I faced the music, or bit the bullet, and consigned my dear trusty amber Pelikan 200 demonstrator model to the wastebasket.


Now, as I’ve written several times before, I have more fountain pens than any girl — even one who does all her first-drafting in longhand — needs. This was still true. I had eight pens filled with various colors of ink and ready to go. I only have two hands, and of the two only one can write legibly. The goddess Durga might make use of eight pens simultaneously, but not me.

But late one night, when desire was strong and inhibition weak, I wandered toward eBay, whence most of my pens have come. A “Christmas model” Pelikan 200 was up for bids, the price was reasonable, and the auction closed within the hour. “Christmas model” did not mean garish. The cap was translucent red, the body translucent green, but you have to hold them up to the light to see the color clearly.

I have given myself away. The eBay screen did not tell me this. I learned it later.

To make a long story short, I bid, and bid again, and bid yet again. The closing price wasn’t quite as reasonable as it had been when I logged on, but it was still pretty good. The pen was mine. (It’s the top one in the photo. See what I mean? It’s not garish at all. It’s currently filled with green ink.)

Well, there’s something about eBay that’s just a little bit compelling. Once upon a time a friend gave me a scratch ticket as a birthday present. I got totally hooked. I lost less than ten bucks before I realized I was in over my head and got out of the pool. I checked out other Pelikan 200 auctions that were closing in the next day or so. I put a couple of them on my watch list.

An email reminded me the next day that one of the auctions had only an hour to go. A-OK. I was working away on my laptop. I opened my browser, went to eBay, and found the auction.

Another long story short: I snagged it, at an even better price. It’s the bottom one in the photo. It’s filled with the plum-colored ink that you can see on the blotter. I’d never used this particular plum-colored ink before. It seems to have been waiting for this particular pen.

Now, of course, I’m haunting the Fahrney’s website for new ink colors.

And so it goes.

Frugal is good. I’m frugal to a fault. But self-denial gets old if you’ve living on a shoestring, and it has its way of bursting into extravagance when least expected. Deny yourself ice cream and pretty soon you’ll be able to think of nothing else.

My theory is that the occasional self-indulgence makes living on a shoestring not only bearable but fun. Every once in a while it’s OK to act as if price is no object, even if it is.