Monday, February 14, 2011

Ignorance is Not Always Bliss

Overheard in the writing utensils aisle at the Office Depot the other day…”What’s the difference between a .5 and a .7 pen?” I silently gasped in horror and disbelief and it took everything I had not to blurt out to the befuddled gentleman “Are you serious?!” As he glided by me in blissful ignorance, I gently lectured him in my head…”The difference is HUGE! Well, depending on the pen. For it is true that for some pen manufacturers there is only a slight difference between their .5 and .7 pen offerings, whereas for others, it is an entirely different writing experience.

Also, (my impassioned silent lecture to our pen greenhorn continued), the type of pen, (and yes, the type of paper too), will totally dictate the way in which the tip of the pen meets the paper, and moves against the paper. For example when it comes to ballpoint pens, unless one is using a foreign or slightly higher-end ballpoint ink, there can be little to no obvious difference between how the pen moves across the paper. The same can be said for gel, fountain (“fine” or “medium” nib being the question), or roller ball pens.

The world is chock full of these mediocre, everyday, run-of-the-mill, low-performing pens which scratch across the paper, and cause the users too much frustration while they attempt to "get the ink going" by performing the classic "scribble test" which usually ends in inkless dismay.

Outside of the fountain pen category, for a truly lovely “.7” experience, I vote for the uniball Gel Impact roller ball pen which not only provides an oozy ink delivery system, but which allows one’s hand to glide across the page with minimal effort. (The “glideability” of a pen truly drives my pen buying decisions.)

And for a truly “.5” ball point experience, I would counsel my naive friend to pick up the classic blue Papermate ink stick pen (blue ink). Although it is a super simple pen, it bears an elegant design, a cheerful color, and its ink delivery system actually does allow one’s hand to move nicely across the paper considering it is a ball point (versus a fountain or gel) pen, and it is super cheap.

What my pal at the pen store does not yet know (presumably) is that there is a whole other world of exquisite writing experiences to be had via the 1.0, . 9, .4, .3, and yes, even the .2 pen nib varieties. My new personal favorite is the Hi-Tec-C Slims .4 dual color pen offered by Pilot. Its size is akin to the classic Tiffany’s “purse” pen, and it is just an elegant for a fraction of the price. (I have it in silver with a white barrel). With the Pilot pen, one has the ability to flip back and forth between colors in seconds (say black and red for example), which makes it an excellent pen for meetings, and general note-taking because you can underscore the more salient details in red immediately..

And so in closing, I am still kicking myself for not having delivered that silent lecture out loud to our Office Depot friend who was sorely lacking nib knowledge. No doubt he would have enjoyed a great deal more of writing bliss by now had I dared to educate him...(smile)

And now, I am off to find the next perfect pen for this evening's writing project. Happy writing fellow pen lovers! I would be very curious to hear from other pen lovers as to what their top .7 and .5 picks would be. Do tell?