Pencils break

Nothing’s perfect.

Perfection is the acceptance of flaws.

The mechanical pencil, a Pentel Wow!, that I’ve been carrying around in my front-left pocket for the last seven-or-so years broke on Wednesday morning. I pushed down on the button at the top, expecting the lead sleeve to extend, and prepared my right thumb for a second push to extend the lead past the end of the sleeve. Instead, the entire front end flew off. The exposed lead stayed attached to the barrel.

The pencil was unusable after that. It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly.

The cap on the button at the top of the pencil that covers the eraser was starting to come loose. When I’d reach into my pocket to fish out the pen that I carry in the same pocket, the sweat on the palm of my left hand was enough to dislodge the cap. I dropped it more than a few times, leading to some embarrassing long pauses as I bent down to search for it. The cap was particularly hard to find in the grass.

It’s funny because I had been thinking about replacing the worn eraser underneath the cap on the button at the top of the pencil. For weeks, I had been scratching my head, wondering where I might have left the tube with the spare erasers that came with the pencil. For the life of me, I couldn’t think of where it might be. I searched all of my desk drawers, to no avail.

Sometimes, life forces your hand.

The absolute best mechanical pencil that I’ve ever used is the Technica-X. It’s discontinued. What I wouldn’t do to get my hands on one of these. In high school, I was still learning, unaware that not everything in life lasts.

The Kuru Toga looks promising, except the lead sleeve isn’t retractable.

Lamy makes wonderful stationery, including a line of “propelling pencils.” It would be immodest to pull such finery out of my front-left pocket when I want to make a quick note, fill in a bubble sheet, or work on a math problem.

I’ve no issues with extolling the virtues of Lamy’s fountain pens. I own more than a few and have gifted several more. But, we’re talking about pencils here.

I’ve always wanted to try my hand with a Blackwing 602 but I get nervous at just the thought of it. That’s a pencil that’s meant to be used. It’s also a traditional wood pencil.

I was being pushed into a corner.

I’ll tell ya, Wednesday was a pretty rough day. During lunch, I searched the internet for a replacement. The Staples website is blocked on my work’s WiFi network; they’ve got contracts with other suppliers. We can’t even expense anything purchased at Staples. Amazon didn’t turn up anything promising. Anywhere I’d go to buy a pen is too highfalutin. There wasn’t enough time to watch enough reviews on YouTube to make an informed decision.

After work, I came home, fed the cat, put my face mask back on, and walked to the nearest Staples. It was a lot further than I remember it being. I remember thinking that it was a good opportunity to take some pictures on the way because it was a warm, sunny afternoon, but I left my camera at home.

On Park Avenue in Montreal, there’s an absolutely wonderful stationery store called Papeterie Nota Bene that opened while I was living only a couple of blocks away. As a student, I was skint but I bought my first Staedler mechanical pencil there. I bought the pencil for editing essays. It was filled with blue lead.

When I was at Staples on Wednesday afternoon, a bit sweaty after a quick-paced walk, I saw a Staedler mechanical pencil, the Mars micro 775. There were a few other options. I considered some of them – Pentel, Zebra, Bic, Staples, Papermate, uni-ball – but my mind was made up.

Familiarity is an attractive quality.

During the walk home, I carried the pencil in the inside pocket of my jacket with my cell phone. I waited to open it until after I had had dinner and relaxed on the couch for a bit. I had almost forgotten about it by that point. When I walked by the den and saw it sitting, unopened, on the desk, I sat myself down and took the pencil out of its packaging.

The fucking retractable lead sleeve is stuck in its extended position.

I started carrying it in my left-front pocket today.


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