I have a little bit of a stationery fetish.
One of my irrational obsessions (doesn’t everybody have them?) is a fascination with inexpensive writing instruments and paper. Since I don’t really like getting ink all over my fingers and clothes, I haven’t gotten into fountain pens, or the other really expensive writing instruments, but I have an aesthetic appreciation of a well-made cheap pen, akin to my fascination with other cheap but well-built products of Asian (these days, mostly Chinese) technology.
While at the local Dollar Tree store a couple of weeks ago to pick up some balloons for a birthday party, I reflexively grabbed a $1 package of 10 ballpoint pens. It’s possible to get cheaper pens than this, but these seemed more interesting than the 5-cent Bic Biro knockoffs. They’re retractable, they have rubber-like grips, and the barrel of the pen is made of the same kind of plastic as the old Bic Cristal design. By twisting the button, you can pop it out of the barrel, which enables you to remove a deceptively ordinary-looking ballpoint cartridge refill, although I wouldn’t characterize the pen as “refillable” because the advance/retract mechanism depends on the flexibility of a plastic hinge on the inner end of the advance button, and on the flexibility of the pocket clip you must push to retract the pen, both of which are bound to fail over time. They’re relatively short, about 152 or 153 mm.
The real magic here, though, is in the ballpoint cartridge. The point appears to be 0.7mm, the ink flows freely and absolutely without skipping, and I’m told it’s waterproof. As attractive as the body of the pen is, I probably wouldn’t care about it if I only knew where to buy the refill.
Anyway, this pen is super-cool, and they’re selling cards of 10 of them for $1 at the Dollar Tree. Whatever Chinese factory is making these probably has a bright future.
note: didn’t occur to me until last night, but these are very similar in appearance to the Pilot Easy Touch retractables.