a perfect pen
It’s completely dark outside, streets only illuminated by weak slices of streetlights. The rain has finally stopped, but the stars are covered under a thick layer of clouds. The world has quieted down, almost asleep, only noise is the occasional car splashing in the puddles on the road. Even the house seems to sigh with relief, cracking and groaning every now and then and settling for the long night to come. Music has lost its voice, almost lost through the speakers, barely audible. If you like, get your one last round of drinks, evening snacks and necessary blankets. This is the last part of this story.
When I first decided to talk about my Lamy 2000, I though “How hard can it be? It’s the best pen in the world.” And I did talk about it like that for a while. A simple story of the Lamy 2000 as I knew it to be. A dear friend, an accomplice at times and a faithful servant. A love story of sorts, a knight in shining Makrolon, ready to serve. But that version of the story never felt right. A story of finding the perfect pen and how a young girl came upon it was not that simple. It’s long and full of bumps on the road. That’s why I am struggling to tell it now, a new version with the right words. What can you do when love has blinded you to the shortcomings of your beloved, and you’re fully aware of it? I cannot write it in all honesty.
Alas, there is a story I must tell, therefore let me start the story of the very pen I am holding right now in a musky, dark apartment; half underground, half above. When you’re sitting on the armchair next to the window, you feel like you’re already halfway buried, your eyes barely above the ground level. The light scarcely shines through the windows due to the large chestnut tree and the cigarette smoke stained curtains, drawn ever so slightly. This is the house of my grandfather, where I had to spend some time every Saturday. Often my mother accompanied me, and the three of us -me, my mother and my grandfather- would sit in the living room around a heavy mahogany coffee table with crystal carafes full of amber liquid. As usual they were chatting and my attention was drifting to the buzzing cars outside, and the screams of the seagulls.
Somehow the topic shifted to fountain pens, and my attention was caught once more. They were talking about getting a graduation gift for some distant cousin or family friend. I thought they would want to get a regular Cross or Sheaffer, whichever is easier to find and cheaper in a set. But my grandfather asked about German pens. “German engineering,” he said, “is bound to be good and last them a while.”
I remember my mother shaking her head and offering up Parker instead, “indestructible like those pens you used to use” she would say. Later, I would learn that she was talking about Parker 51 with it’s hooded little nib.
In the afternoon, we drove to an office supply store with my mother. She bought a generic Cross as a graduation gift while I was left alone to wander through the aisles. Lamy - Made in Germany was written in backlit capital letters on one of the walls, so I walked there. Rows of colourful Safaris mounted on a rotating rack and a brightly illuminated cabinet full of stainless steel, shiny, beautifully engineered pens. The lower shelves were quite packed, disorganised rows of raised stands and pens just left on the shelves. On the top shelf, there was only one pen on a stand under the blazing lights. A shrine dedicated to the Lamy 2000. Its cap open to reveal the hooded nib. I was mesmerised. I remember dragging my mother to blabber about it. She had not understood my excitement, “A fountain pen that expensive should have at least a large gold nib to make it look pretty,” she had said, nudging towards the black Parker Sonnets in a nearby stand. Those looked generic, something that would show up on Clipart if you searched for “fountain pen”. Lamy 2000 was different.
I didn’t get my own Lamy 2000 until years later, on another continent. I had always admired its design and iconic looks, but not until I held it in my hand I understood why it was so good. Good enough to require little change over the last half a century. It had everything I could ask for, packed in an immaculate Bauhaus design. I try to use it as much as I can to honour those before me. Bauhaus has always been an inspiration, and this pen is no different. It’s a pen built to be used and simply enjoyed unencumbered. In my humble opinion, it would’ve been a much different graduation gift, something to be used and cherished instead of being forgotten in a drawer somewhere.
This is my perfect pen. I will always carry it with me everywhere. It is currently inked with Graf von Faber Castell’s Cognac Brown, just like the cognac in crystal bottles all those years ago. The colour is quite close too.
I will try to post in a regular schedule on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This is the last post on my series on my black pens. Thank you for reading!