Friday, January 1, 2010

A good pen, Watergate, pencils and Donna Summer

George Waters column for Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014:

Like many men who lived through both Watergate and disco, I have a favorite pen. I am not saying those events had anything to do with the pen, I was just curious to see if you are the kind of person who would read another sentence to find out what the first one meant.

A favorite pen, like a favorite dog or sibling, is subjective. Ask 10 people what brand their favorite pen is, or favorite brother, and you will get 10 different answers, because these people are not in the same family. So that's not a good poll sample for pens.

The brand of my favorite pen does not matter, and would impress no one, except maybe a guy with no pen. It is plastic, and it has one of those rubber grips they make now to coddle your forefinger.

Men of my father's generation would probably say the downfall of our republic is symbolized by finger-coddling, and I am not sure I would disagree. But I also remember the callous my index finger built up writing term papers with a pencil. A pencil had six sharp edges, each one designed by a team of school teachers to make learning hurt.

I say "had" because pencils are in my past. I write in ink now, because if I make a mistake I have enough life experience now to blame it on someone else. Erasing is for sissies and, as I recall, just as callous-inducing as writing. Something that pokes you coming and going should be avoided, unless you are a character in one of those "Fifty Shades" books. And if you are, you are probably too busy cringing at your dialogue to write anything yourself.

My favorite pen spools ink out evenly and doesn't dry up every five minutes. Andy Rooney probably already wrote a column about pens decades ago, but just because Rembrandt was heck on canvas doesn't mean everybody stopped painting.

A pen is a tool. A good tool makes your work easier, and deserves praise. Watergate and disco, in contrast, do not. Donna Summer was pretty cute, I admit. I hope she and Andy Rooney are dancing in a cloud somewhere, she in a silk disco gown and he with his eyebrows clipped now to a heavenly, distinguished trim. We forgive Donna for breaking into the Watergate. She swore she was only looking for a good pen. I believe her.