Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, February 06, 2009

a year of morning thanks


In Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Biff Loman, Willy's fair-haired son, can't keep his grubby hands off a pen and takes it along with him when he leaves the office of a man who Willy thinks is going to finally set his sweetheart boy up with the job he'd always deserved. Doesn't happen, of course. Biff ends up with the pen and his old man ends up dead.

A memorable moment in literature. Running off with pens is a sin into which I could be seduced. I love pens. Always have. Even though right now, the nearest pen is six inches away and I'm hammering away on a keyboard like most everyone else, this messy office space is awash with pens. I've got dozens, probably hundreds, some of them stashed in drawers I don't even remember, dried up tight, I'm sure.

Not only that, but all over the house we've got pens--on desks, in drawers, leaving half-dollar-sized, plum-colored stains inside sport coats. Lots of them have advertisements-- this or that Holiday Inn (cheapos) or some local business (usually of more heft and thus a better catch).

No matter. Yesterday, in the bookstore, I walked past the pens and had to restrain myself, avert my eyes like some ink-seduced Jimmy Carter, who just by looking claimed to be an adulterer. That I didn't buy one--or two or a half-dozen--doesn't mean I wasn't sorely tempted. But the truth is, I didn't look. But then the college bookstore doesn't really have the supermodels; now, Staples or Office Max. . .I don't even want to go there.

I can't go to school without one in my pocket, can't even trot off to church. We walk most places in our lives, so I can easily enough forget a billfold, but I'm stark naked without a pen.

Technology has changed our lives in the last decade, but the ball-point pen is as stable a fixture in function and design as a table knife. Sure, new gaudy gels make what you see on paper snappier these days, but ye olde ink pen hasn't changed a whole lot and sure as heck doesn't show its age.

So that's what I'm thinking of this morning. There are five within a foot of this keyboard. They're everywhere, they're everywhere--and that's the way it should be. This morning I'm thankful for pens.

I just wish they didn't last so long so I could buy more. Not steal. Look what happened to the Loman boys.


Joel said...

Some writing teacher of mine once advised me to get a good pen--something that would make me enjoy the process that much more. It was sound advice and I've since fallen for fountain pens. Now if I could only figure out how to use them without getting ink all over my fingers.

Anonymous said...

Oh, a fellow addict!
No, there is no way to avoid the ink-stains, but who would want to? They are a badge of honor to a writer, an identity mark. Which is why women writers of yore had to hide their inky fingers...