Finding and Making Fellow Travelers

Yesterday, in my evening class, I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever done: lend one of my better fountain pens to a student so she could try it. I then watched as she passed it to another student to try.

Oddly, and I’m as surprised as everybody else, I didn’t hurt anyone.

This all started with a discussion of notebooks. I pointed out that, with a few exceptions, I prefer Japanese notebooks. The student was impressed, especially when I mentioned Tomoe River paper and how good it was for fountain pens.

That prompted one of my younger students to ask why I carried so many pens and I was like “because”. She then asked to see one and, because she will eventually fill out evaluations about me, I thought I should lend her one. The problem is, I didn’t have any crap ones to lend her and she wanted only the best.

At first I had to show her how to hold it. She started to use it with the feed up and I had to explain to put the pretty side up. I also explained, perhaps a bit to vehemently “don’t press, don’t press, for Goodness’ sake don’t press. Just let the weight of the pen do the work.” She wrote her name and passed it to another student. We repeated the same ritual and, out of the blue, another student began giving advice. Once he got the hang of writing with it, he couldn’t stop writing stuff.

I think he was especially impressed by the writing style from the stub nib. This led to the revelation that the student who’d offered advice was also a fountain pen fan, or at least familiar with them.

We then had a discussion about pens, including the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and a few others.

I hope to cultivate this interest in pens and fountain pens among my students. I’ll just have to remember to bring some pens I don’t mind lending out.

The problem is, I don’t actually have any of those.

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