It happens all the time. As you’re working at one of the public service desks in the library someone asks to borrow a pen. A completely acceptable question given the environment and we’ll hand you a pen or three, and gladly! For people who collect pens and are members of the pen appreciation club, (ahem.. pen geeks), this is a charged request. You more than likely will get the reply, “What’s if for?” This query is not meant to be a smart comeback, but to a pen geek, there are many types of pens and what you might want to do with these inky objects d’art is quite diverse and requires a specific type of writing implement.
Here is an incomplete list of possibilities of what you might be up to when you ask a pen geek to borrow a pen:
The fine point Sharpie: Ideal for signing the backs of library cards, tattooing your unsuspecting friend or family member, or office pranking the sleeping co-worker with a new “temporary” tattoo. While this might not be the type of “ink” that your ex boyfriend or college roommate suggested years ago, it will get the job done.
The Sharpie mini: For cheerful and timely passive aggressive notes left for coworkers who might have “borrowed” your red Swingline stapler and not returned it. Use a bright and cheerful color and all capitals, but be sure to put a smiley face at the end of your message. (-:
A chisel point permanent marker in red: To be used for more serious office offenses like leaving moldy and stinky foods in the communal refrigerator or for leaving the employee photocopier programmed for 50 copies. Use a bold red or black color with a large tip, all capitals, possible underscoring of important points in the message, no smiley faces, which imparts to all that you mean business. This pen is built to withstand your tight grip and clenched fist.
Your loved one’s birthday or anniversary card: This job requires a pen that has built in rack and pinion steering. I recommend the Pilot precise roller-ball pen in a sedate blue color. No splashes of red ink or neon scented glittery ink here, or your intentions might be misunderstood. Perfect for your cursive and finely penned well wishes and pleas for an invite to the recipients summer lake house (hint, hint).
Poster for your missing dog (or beloved mammal that has gone AWOL): This situation requires pens to be attention grabbing and covey the feeling of sentiment and emotional turmoil that losing your pet pooch Twinka has caused you. I recommend a set of Uni-posca markers with a medium tip. The use of color is not only eye catching but also gives your posting a homely, family crafted feel which will tug at the heart strings of any passer-by without a heart of stone.
Post-it note of affection (to be hidden in child’s/spouses lunchbox, book, Filofax, card catalog, windshield sun visor, etc): An unexpected little treat like this will benefit from a layered approach. Go tactile and multi-sensory with a scented glitter pen. If you’re going to get all cute and fluffy, you might as well embrace the concept fully. I recommend a set of tutti-frutti gel pens which leave a delightful smelling and colorful love note that your beloved will cherish forever (or at least until lunch is over).
I would like to draw your attention to some wonderful books we have here at the library on penmanship, calligraphy and pen collecting. And lastly, please remember the good old quote by Marcus Brody in the Indiana Jones movie, “You see Henry, the pen, the pen, is mightier than the sword.” Only a pen-geek would remember this line decades later and still find it hilarious.