The Blue Pen Dilemma

Heya,

My pen died today. I use cheap black BIC pens, because every time I get a more expensive one it dies immediately. You know those Seven Year pens? Yeah, mine lasted seven days.

I went to my boss and asked if I could borrow a pen. But, more specifically, I asked if I could borrow a black pen. Because I hate blue pens.

She had to hunt around a bit for a black pen, which made me stop and think about why even the idea of writing with a blue pen was so repellant to me. Why couldn’t I just take one of the four blue pens she had found and go back to work?

Because of those stupid PaperMate erasable blue pens, that why.

My school sold back-to-school kits. I don’t know if this is a common thing or if this was just because I went to an inner city school, but I remember that every year my parents would buy a kit that contained all the school supplies I would need for that year from my primary school. It usually included a pencil case, glue, etc. And I think second grade was the first year that, instead of just pencils, we got pens.

But they weren’t really pens. They were half-assed erasable pens.

I hate doing things by half measures. I’m a “go big or go home” kind of person. I set my goals high, and either accomplish everything or nothing. Which is admittedly not always the best way of doing business, but it’s just how I am.

I hated those blue erasable pens, just like I hated training wheels. Maybe part of it was because they didn’t actually erase very well, so they were this weird, unpleasant thing that straddled the line between pencil and pen.

Whatever it was, it felt like I was almost-but-not-quite being trusted. I could almost be trusted to write in permanent ink, but I wasn’t quite there yet. Blue pen, for me, is childish. But not fun, scented-crayola-crayons childish. Being told to stay out of cupboards childish. “Don’t touch that” childish. “You’re so adorable for trying” childish. I fucking hated those pens. Those pens were condescension.

I don’t know if all of this was apparent to me at the time, but I do know that as soon as the option arrived to pick between black and blue permanent pens, I picked black. And I continue to pick black to this day for anything remotely serious. There was a brief window of time in university where I kept all of my notes in one notebook, when I used a different coloured pen for each subject, but my “to do” list was always written in black ink.

There’s no grand overarching point to this story, I just felt like offering you a glimpse of the neuroses with which I live every day.

Love,

B

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