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Moral Ascendancy

Posted by Dirck on 11 February, 2013

I’m a little distracted at the moment thanks to something that I’m going to wait until tomorrow to address; it’s a disturbing development in the world of pens, and I want to get my self a little more grounded before going into a rant of the topic.

So, today, I will mention something that I did last week.  Along with The Pen, which I have managed to leave at home today, I ordered some quite inexpensive Chinese pens to give away.  Not, I hasten to mention, here, but to people I share physical space with now and again and who I think need a chance to try to wonderful fountain pen lifestyle.  After I’d shown The Pen to my wife, I also showed her the other pens, and explained the intention behind them.  One of the candidate-receivers is a good friend to both of us, and my wife was… slightly nonplussed by the notion of giving this person a fountain pen.

“You remember how she reacted the last time you forced her to use one?”

Yes, but that was a Lamy Safari that needed a realignment.  Who likes an ill-tempered pen?

“She’s left handed.  That’s why she doesn’t like fountain pens in general.”

She’s an underwriter, and thus a perfect candidate for sinister fountain pennery.  However, I do admit that her angle of attack is rather steep, and that makes for an unhappy fountain pen.  But, he said with a flourish, look at the way this pen works….

“This pen” was a Hero 001, and I’ll import a picture from my page about it:

The tines so nice they’ve cut them twice.

It’s one of these very clever pens that doesn’t really care about angle of attack.  It is also relatively indifferent to pressure, which is great for a newcomer to real pens.  What could go wrong?

That last line got the appropriate wry look from my wife, and I pointed out the extremely low cost of the item and the fact that if our friend didn’t like it then it would eventually find a good home elsewhere.  I then staggered into my Cavern of Consultation to apply loupe, abrasives and experience to the tipping of the item in question so it would be of optimal delight when put to the test.

A few days later, and a literal squeal of delight was the result of the test.  Friend went home with a pen she has apparently fallen in love with and about a 15ml of Violette Pensée to see her through to buying her own bottle.  I made a smug face at my wife.

Coincidentally, that same night I read a bit of The Nutmeg of Consolation, in which Dr. Maturin, the true central character of Patrick O’Brian’s marvellous series, contemplates the failure of his bank and the shift this may bring about in his relationship with his wife.  Marriages are, in his view, frequently a lifelong striving for moral dominance that can drain the joy from the relationship (an example he brings up is a relative who has secretly used her dress funds to hire monks to pray for her husband; he doesn’t know, so can’t mount a response, and she thus “wins” the moment one of them dies).

There I was, the feel of smugness still on my face, having scored this point over my wife.  Concern.  We are not, I think I’ve mentioned in the past, a point-counting sort of couple.  If there’s any sporting analogies to be applied, we are profoundly on the same team.  Had I unthinkingly fired the first shot in a foolish civil war?  Would we descend into a chaos of expansive gifts and pointed kindnesses, from which neither can take any happiness?

Reflecting further, I think not.  Maturin is hardly an infallible role model; at very least, he abuses any psychoactive substance the early 19th century has to offer and cleans his instruments mainly by accident.  That one moment of smug superiority was bound to the glee of a friend who has had little enough in the past while (her mother’s cancer surgery went well enough, her apartment on which the rent won’t go up to authentically usurious amounts until May is only slowly filling with water, and the chap that jilted her had the grace to do so in a merely semi-public place), which tends to mask the offense.  Neither of us has conducted him or herself any differently since the incident.

I think I’m OK.  But I’m starting to get some pretty serious short-circuits on the topic of what to do about Valentine’s day; too much looks both guilty and like an attempt to increase the “gap”.  Too little and I’m another of these complacent husbands who neglects his wife.  Tricky stuff, these human relationships.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Balance Craftsman (which is every bit as nice as last weeks Pelikan.  Totally.  What do you mean, “protests too much”?)
Today’s ink: Skrip semi-vintage blue-black

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4 Responses to “Moral Ascendancy”

  1. Maja said

    Well, I always wondered if your wife read your blog or not. My husband regularly posts on Twitter and Facebook, but I purposely avoid reading what he has written as I consider those sites to be basically non- or semi-private journal entries, and back when I was teenager, I didn’t want anyone to read my journal. The incident you described seemed merely to be a mild case of temporary one-upmanship. You made a family friend happy with your pen & ink gift, and let’s face it, fountain pens are your bailiwick, so you can be forgiven for some smugness 😉

    • She looks in VERY infrequently, usually at my prompting when I’m either in love with some turn of phrase I’ve cobbled up or when someone has left a comment that’s even more apt than the usual run of deeply apt comments that seem to gather here, so I’m… mostly unobserved.

      The thing that started this ball rolling was the unusual coincidence of picking that book up rather than one of the two other bedside winders-down I’ve got on the go and dropping it open to just that page on that particular night. I’m (just) enough of a mystic to be willing to notice invisible hands at work, and will take warnings FROM BEYOND (WoooOOOOOoooo….) where I can get ’em.

      • Maja said

        I know what you mean….but what of the number of times something did *not* coincide with your own life? 😉 Relationships of any sort seem to be a subconscious war of one-upmanships with others—parents, siblings, spouses, children, co-workers et al. I’m sure you’ll think of a suitable way to show your wife how much you care about her on the 14th…or just show her your blog post. Good luck!

  2. […] other item of pen-repair achievement from the previous weekend.  The friend I mentioned having recently given a Hero 001 to came around for a visit, and she brought her pen with her.  Broken.  Not working.  Can I […]

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