Say, that would make a good title for a ballad of some sort, wouldn’t it? Never fear, folks; the poetical urge has fled, and will hopefully remain lodged firmly in the collective bosoms of authentic poets and thirteen year old girls, where it rightfully belongs.
To call what I’m about to describe a battle is to grossly overstate the matter, and frankly to horribly cheapen the very notion of “battle.” There are no scenes of grand heroism, no moving tableaux of struggle. There is, in fact, me sitting in front of my computer, about a week ago.
Right next to “amateur poetics” in the spectrum of Tedious Things to Drive Readers from Your Works is “loving descriptions of a session of Warcraft,” so I want to reassure you that we’re not traipsing down that path. No, far from the (relative) excitement of Warcraft, the scene we glance at is a quick review of the then-current offerings of eBay. Among them was a not-overpriced example of the Sheaffer PFM. “Ooh,’ said past me, “I haven’t got one of those.”
True. The PFM is, for various reasons, one of the prestige pens for vintage collectors, and when they appear tend to go for rather a lot. As it happens, at the moment I’ve got a pretty plump PayPal account (thanks, various clients and buyers!), so looking at a PFM was not mere wishful thinking. A closer look at the listing gave me reason to hope. The inlaid point, that innovation of the PFM, had a pronounced bend in it. A big, obvious bend, of the sort that puts may people off, as it draws the thought, “I’d have to pay someone a bunch of extra money to fix that, if I were to win the auction.”
Well… that’s not a thought I’m frequently given to, these days. Fixing bends in inlaid points is, to a certain extent, all in a day’s work for me. So, I gave a good hard think about how much I would spend on that particular model if it didn’t need the point repair; if, that is to say, it only needed the usual replacement of rubber components, which I also do for myself, but requires some spares… and frankly, if it’s not mint, why pay mint prices? Still, the amount I put down as my maximum bid was, for the state of the pen, relatively high.
The auction ground down, and this morning I found… I’d lost. Not only had someone outbid me by five dollars, but someone else outbid that person. My dreams of wrestling poor Bendy Endy back into function will forever more be just dreams. This is not a complaint, which one finds rather a lot of on pen fora, about some stupid jerk who outbid me at the last second, because frankly that was all I wanted to bid and having more time to counter-bid wouldn’t change that. No, I’m just venting off my confusion about why someone would bid that much more than me. I have these options:
- someone has no idea that it is, in fact, broken;
- someone thinks that, in bidding thus and then paying for the repairs, they are still ahead;
- someone thinks they can fix that, and have deeper pockets than me and the will to reach down into them.
The first would be sad, and lamentably seems likely. Another regular topic of discussion on the fora is something along the lines of, “Why are these idiots bidding against each other on a Parkette in increments of $50?” and the answer always seems to come down to enthusiasm untempered by any research at all. The second is possible, perhaps even reasonable given the cosmetic shape of the pen, and it’s the one I hope for, if only because it gives a boost to the craft I’m trying to make more of a living at. The third….
Here’s where I have a bit of a split in my own head. I’m very much in favour of DIY, as proven by the fact that I hand out free advice on the subject. But if too many people decide it’s something they can do for themselves, them my dream of making it a regular and useful component of the household income vanishes in a puff of fairy-dust and talcum powder.
See? I don’t need my son’s help not to get a good sleep. I can mess it up for myself!
Today’s pen (got cheap ‘cuz it was broken): Waterman Crusader
Today’s ink: Noodler’s Walnut