March 31, 2011

Writer's Workshop: the Pen

In 5th grade the big thing was transitioning from pencil to pen, but in order to make that move your cursive writing skills had to be to the teacher’s liking. I was certain I would be the first 5th grader that year to make the move- but I wasn’t. And I was sure it was because I didn’t have one of those fancy new erasable pens that were all the rage (why I was certain this was the reason since I couldn’t use a pen until I perfected the writing with pencil, I don’t know... I was 10, for crying out loud!).

I begged my mom for one but she refused. Of course. (I swear my mom never got me anything cool. No, I take that back. After years and years of begging for a real Trapper Keeper folder system, she finally caved and got me one… for my 35th birthday. I’m not even joking- though I did digress greatly.)

I wanted that erasable pen so badly. I can still see it today- yellow with a black eraser. The ink was black. The cap came off and slid over the long part of the pen so that the eraser could easily be used. I had my eye on that pen for days, if not weeks (and you know weeks back then was like years today).

this is the pen EXACTLY except mine
just had a regular black eraser
instead of a Qbert one though i did
always love me some Qbert!
But my mom kept refusing to get it for me.

So one day when I went to the new drug store on the corner of the intersection I wasn’t supposed to go near, I got me that pen.

I walked in to the store with some of my friends and we all agreed to meet back at the counter in 10 minutes. I picked out some candy and then went to the pen aisle and saw it. My pen. I picked it off the rack and looked at the price tag and knew I didn’t have the money for it in addition to the candy so I switched the tag with another; but rather than buy the pen with the cheaper price tag, I put the pen in my pocket.

I remember looking around and not seeing anyone and thinking that I would just go to the counter and buy the candy. And I did just that. And after I got done paying and we were about to leave, a deep voice ordered us to stop.

And we stopped.

As did time.

And my heart.

“I need to see what’s in your pocket,” the man in the blue suit said, looking down at me.

I took the pen, still in its package, out of my pocket and started to cry.

“You girls can leave,” the man told my friends who didn’t skip a beat and immediately left.

I was sure I would be put in handcuffs and escorted into a police car. Instead, he brought me to the counter where the cashier was and they both looked at me and the pen that sat on the counter, taunting me.

“You can either buy the pen or we have to call your parents."

“There’s nobody home,” I said, digging through my change, avoiding eye contact and trying not to cry.

“And you’re not welcome back here anymore, either.”

I bought the pen and left- never to look back and never to steal again.

Nearly 30 years later and I still have an odd obsession with pens- even though I rarely use them anymore thanks be to the internet.


  1. Aw, good story, I felt your pain!

    I never got one of those dang eraseable pens either, till I got a summer job and bought my own supplies!

  2. I stole candy from the neighborhood store. They knew my whole family. They never caught me. Or maybe they knew, but didn't care.

    Either way, I hear your obsession with pens. But I don't like the erasable ones. I always thought they didn't erase well enough.

  3. Oh no! I bet you were so scared.

    Though, I'm distracted by the trapper keeper story- for your 35th birthday? Really????

  4. That Eraser Mate sure looks tempting so I can't blame you. Anyway I stole gum, my siblings caught me, told me the cops would come and get me unless I threw the evidence out the back window which I did. They proceeded to go out back and collect the gum for themselves. I was such a sucker!

  5. no way! YOU?

    I stole those friendship bracelets they used to sell at Dominicks and I was convinced that they had a WANTED poster of me in their back room.

    But I HATED erasable pens because they smeared so bad with lefties. I always begged to use a regular pen!


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