Ah Nostalgia, Oh Memory, Alas Science
by Steve Mitchell
In high school, some *coughcough* years ago, I always carried a pen, a Parker ballpoint pen. I carried it it my hand and fiddled with it when I wasn’t writing with it. I doodled in the margins with it. I clicked it. I twirled it.
I literally carried a pen in my hand all four years, until I graduated 30 years ago.
Um, yeah. Oh. You got me. 30 years.
Anyhow. I always thought it was called a Parker Arrow because the pocket clip was shaped like an arrow but I guess it was called the ‘Jotter’. I had a blue one and, at one point, a red one.
You know the kind I mean. They looked kind of like this:
Sort of like that. Kind of. You know the kind I mean.
When I joined the Air Force, I stopped carrying a pen in my hand. In uniform, you have to leave your right hand free to salute. My left hand was generally busy with a cigarette.
But, when I decided to quit smoking, once and for all, a couple few years out of the service, I bought another Parker. And I carried it and clicked it whenever I felt restless for a smoke. I remember being disappointed Parker had downgraded to using plastic threads in the cap instead of the brass threads, but i still liked it.
Somewhere down the line, I lost that pen and didn’t give it much thought. I haven’t smoked a cigarette in about 16 years.
Where was I?
Oh yeah. I’m a nostalgic type and given to sentiment, and a week or so ago I started thinking about the Parker pens. I missed them. I carry a pen in my back pocket at work but it’s just a pen.
Because I get all shoppy when I’m nostalgic, I went on eBay. There’s a bunch of Parker pens to be found on eBay but, to get a super clean, vintage pen with the brass threads and the recessed button with the logo, I’d have to spend about 35 dollars and I didn’t see any in a color I wanted.
So, Lucie, unbeknownst to me, went and got me a new Parker Jotter, the deluxe, chiseled, steel version.
I’d always had the pens with the plastic barrel and, initially, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this variety, but I like it. I like it a lot. I especially like it because Lucie bought it for me just because she loves me.
I noticed, though, it felt thinner in my hand than I remembered the pens being.
Had they changed them? Are my hands bigger? Are the steel ones thinner?
I went back to eBay. Hey! I decided, I already have one for work, but now I need one for home! And I can get a less pristine, vintage pen with the brass threads and the recessed button for the price of a new one then I can compare the thickness and see if they changed! It’s science!
I strolled the eBay and found an inexpensive, vintage, green Parker Jotter.
I noticed right away it’s pretty much the same size as the new one.
Science wins the day, right? Chalk off this business of them being thinner to a faulty memory. Chalk it off to my hands growing thicker.
I checked the cap thread insert of my vintage pen and it’s plastic! The eBay description specifically said brass.
The pen is vintage; it has the recessed button. But, it’s still a newer make than the ones I had in high school.
I emailed the seller to let him know his description was wrong. He offered to exchange the pen, but I’d paid a fair price, even for the plastic thread, and I like the pen. So I chose to keep it.
So, that’s where I’m at. I’ve got a pen for work and a pen for home. I’ll maybe put Fisher space pen refill cartridges in them because that would be cool. I’m happy with my pen situation.
And I can forget the nagging feeling they used to be thicker.
Or I could forget, if only …
I hadn’t read on wikipedia, at some point Parker changed to a thinner diameter barrel and cap.
The article didn’t know when, only saying there were many slight design changes between 1958 and 1973.
I guess I’m not quite done.