Lame Adventure 341: Mystery Pens

Since I had spent the better part of this particularly sunny and pleasant late summer Sunday indoors web surfing a seventies era Gillette Foamy shaving cream commercial featuring the legendary New York Mets ballplayer, Ed Kranepool*, and coming up short, I decided that the time had come to take my pasty white scrawny being outside for a walk while light still remained in the dwindling day.

*Ed Kranepool – is that a classic baseball player name or what?

Just as I was about to exit my sanctum sanctorum, I encountered an iPad box full of pens sitting atop the radiator cover in my building’s vestibule.

iPad box full of pens.

Although I would personally prefer the iPad it originally contained, there appeared to be many nice pens in that box.  The radiator cover is where tenants occasionally place items they no longer want, usually dull magazines and junk mail, but one year I recall that someone put out some Halloween candy.  I look at this stuff, but I’m not the taking type and it would be just my luck that I’d pop the piece of candy laced with a razor blade or arsenic in my pie-hole.

Pens, on the other hand, appeal to me.  They’re user-friendly.  I feel very discombobulated when I want to jot a note and I reach into my messenger bag only to discover that my pen is missing.  When this last happened to me I had to buy an emergency pen at a newsstand, but much to my chagrin, the seller only had blue ballpoints.  I utterly detest blue ink, but I had no choice, so I lowered myself and made the purchase so I could jot:

“If outlook on life dictates longevity, I should have been dead a week ago last Tuesday.”

Back to the present, I noticed that the iPad box packed with pens for the taking had many in black ink.  I helped myself to four, but took one in green for it reminded me of my charming Significant Whatever.

The chosen five pens.

I am certain that if she were a pen, it would not be one that’s generic and black.  She’s quick with a clever quip.  Recently, she cooed, in reaction to my always attaching photographs in my emails to her; the most recent being an image of a bag of artificially flavored sour cream and onion potato chips — after admitting that she did not necessarily require a visual aid to envision this foodstuff:

Chips I would never eat.

SW: I’m beginning to think maybe this is a form of OCD or Tourettes with you.

After I palmed my five chosen pens I headed out the door and proceeded to walk up my block at a jaunty clip.  I observed a new bag in a new tree across the street from the other tree that’s been bagged since spring.

New tree bagged.

Significant bag caught in branches.

It was a satisfying stroll where I was subject to only one tiny bug flying into my face – and just in-between my eyes rather than into my glasses.  My thoughts as I walked were primarily focused on the presidential election, new angles of intimacy with my Significant Whatever, and who left those pens behind and why?  It was quite a collection that was accumulated.  Did it take years?  Some appeared to be from hotels, others from places including Yale.  Were the rest purchased by their former owner or just absconded from the workplace, another great American pastime – filching office supplies?  Or, was it someone whose mate laid down the law:

Mate:  Either those pens go or I go!

When I left for work on Monday, the pens were still there, but it appeared that more were taken and my fellow tenants were indulging in this magnanimous gesture.  When I returned home that evening, the iPad box full of pens was gone.  Maybe their original owner had a change of heart and could not bear forfeiting his entire pen collection?  Or, could it be that in the course of the day every pen was under new ownership? Possibly, my landlady now has that iPad box full of pens sitting in her kitchen alongside her ancient answering machine, with the message declaring in her Irish brogue, “This is a machine”?

There it is, another unsolved mystery about as confounding as why no one has yet to post that Ed Kranepool shaving cream commercial on YouTube?

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136 responses to “Lame Adventure 341: Mystery Pens

  1. I had a housemate pass away a year or so ago who was a bit of a problem hoarder. Among the favorite things he’d stuffed his room to the ceiling with were pens in many dozens of locations. Overall I’d say he had at least ten times as many pens as were in the iPad box: he had two entire large shoeboxes’ worth! (that’s with double lengths of pens btw… 4 shoeboxes if they were just loaded in singly!)

    I’ve given a number away to friends and to a few pubs where I figured I’d accidentally walked out with a dozen or more pens over the years, but I still have enough to last my lifetime and leave to my heirs…

    :>
    Michael

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    • Thank you for sharing your up front and personal experience with an actual hoarder Michael. Now that you’ve brought this to my attention, I suppose if one must hoard, hoarding pens is much more space saving and much less of a health hazard than having stacks of magazines and newspapers cluttering one’s space from floor to ceiling.

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  2. Here’s a hint: take out your Merriam Webster or Funk and Wagnalls and look up mediocre. That’s right there’s Ed’s smiling face peering right back at you. Lifetime .261 hitter who belted a staggering 118 dingers In 17 full seasons with the amazing’ Mets in Queens. Prorated to a full 162 games per season, that was 10 round trippers a year. At around 4 at bats per game that’s an astounding 1 homer for every 65 plate appearances. Admittedly, in those full seasons of 1963 thru 1968 the pitcher’s mound was elevated and few hitters were putting up the kind of numbers they did over the past 30 to 40 years. He probably was the youngest Met to see playing time as he was a mere 17 (D1’s age) when he played in parts of 3 games presumably at the end of that glorious year. Maybe Marv Throneberry had pulled a groin or Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman was hobbled with a sore wrist. Okay, maybe not Choo Choo as he was a catcher, but I couldn’t resist bringing up his name. You want others? How about ex-Met 3B George Basil Theodore aka The Stork?

    Got to prepare for my Jamaican counterparts’ visit as well as my first quiz in nihongo this evening. It’s been a blast.

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  3. What a fantastic find. I always seem to be without pen, and then when I find one, I seem to have lost the ability to write with my hand.

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  4. Note: he was 17 when he got called up in the Mets inaugural 1962 season in Flushing.

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  5. Where did those pens come from? Where did they go? And why were they piled in a iPad box? Although, it is the perfect width for storing a bunch of pens. Hmmm, maybe Steve Jobs?

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  6. She just resumed her hitting lessons and her coach said she looks like she is hitting for more power already. So maybe. Her power is usually to the off field gap in right center. She did have 2 or 3 triples last year.

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  7. Dear Lame,
    How could you mention Kranepool and leave out Marvelous Marv Throneberry? I’m sure he’s rolling over in his grave asking for another Miller Lite.
    About the pens, we did some remodeling here at the Grind and I had to move my stuff into the hall for a weekend. Evidently, I’m a pen horder and didn’t know it. Maybe it’s time I came out of the supply closet and admitted my weakness for ink filled vessels. Congrats on getting a green one. Not many of those lying around for the taking.

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  8. V, you are hysterical. Do you carry around a tiny bottle of sanitizer? I’m thinking that pile of pens is like a pile of unwrapped mints in a restaurant — God only knows how many hands have been in there and where those hands have been. Love the image of your Irish landlady.

    So enjoyed your musings and congrats for scoring those pens. I tried keeping one of those recorders on me or using the one on my phone but it’s way more of a pain in the ass than simply scribbling something down on a piece of paper. Oh, and I prefer black ink as well.

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  9. I have kind of a “thing” for pens. That picture is like porn to me.

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  10. I could have never written an entire post on a box of pens and made it sound nearly as interesting as you did. Good post! 🙂

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  11. This makes me silly happy.

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  12. Why do you hate blue ink? Whatever the reason, I am glad you overcame it to write that morbid bon mot.

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  13. What a quote to have to jot in blue, LA… and you’ve reminded me I have a box of pens like that somewhere. Now I’ll be wondering that all evening.
    And what is it with those bags? They’re multiplying!

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  14. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Your significant bag caught in branches REALLY made me laugh 🙂 🙂

    And as for your pens… I totally relate to that. I enjoyed this – thanks.

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  15. It is a very unusual sight, a box of pens, and I couldn’t help wondering if the depositor of said pens knew that the radiator was all about? It is serendipity unplugged to find so many black ones. Just miraculous.

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  16. sorry, knew what the radiator was all about…

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  17. I love office supplies.. but only blue pens. Perhaps someone was like me and cleaned out all those sorry ass black pens and left them for taking?
    I get really cranky if someone touches my shit on my desk…

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    • ps I have no idea why I told you that

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    • My desk at work looks like a nuclear reactor test launch site, so if someone moves anything, it could easily take me forever to notice. My workspace at home, though, is immaculate. I write my lame adventures in a cathedral of keyboard scribbling — if a cathedral were 312 square feet.

      P.S. I have no idea why I told you that so we’re Even Steven Audra.

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      • laughing… why is that — at home and work we are different? mmm I think we need to analyze that.
        I recently sent out an email in regards to my stapler, scissors and tape being gone off my desk. Don’t touch my stuff YO. Librarians don’t like their shit messed with.
        and now I have told you again too much haaa

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  18. I applaud you for rescuing those pens. It makes me sad that someone abandoned them and left them to such an uncertain fate. I’ve always been a pen junkie too. But nowadays, I use fountain pens, and it’s not often that I find abandoned fountain pens. In fact, I’ve never found one.

    But what do you have against sour cream & onion Ridgies???

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    • When I work on my book, I write with a quill. Do you write with the fountain pen to feel more in tune with your elicit hot dead guy throb, Robert Cornelius?

      Sour CREAM!!! I’m severely lactose intolerant. Even though 92% of the ingredients in those chips were produced at Dow Chemical, there’s still cream and gastrointestinal killing citric acid in there (citric acid is another big no-no in my highly restricted diet). I generally avoid foodstuffs with a list of ingredients that rivals the length of the Dead Sea scrolls though.

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  19. Wow … seems you a halfway house for pens. Then again, an impressive task in life. After all, someone has to do it! OMG … Ed Kranepool – just a great name from the past for this baseball fan. Meanwhile, I love the bagged trees. You made my day!

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  20. No way I could actually read through all of the comments, but, gosh, there are QUITE a few. I haven’t had 100 comments since I stopped reading other blogs in the past couple of weeks. At any rate, I have a THING for office suppiles. Totally love them! I can’t believe you helped yourself to so few of them. I would probably have taken 20 or more. Your restraint is impressive, my friend.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

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    • It’s a rainy Tuesday night; a good time to be indoors and online … Yes, I’m very aware since I’m in-the-Kathy-know that your life has gotten in the way of your blogging. I think you should be feeling blessed about that. I am not at all surprised that you, of all people, would have a THING for office supplies as I reflect on the fact that you live with two dogs and a cat food can collection. I am sure you would have taken far more pens — and you would have found some Rube Goldbergian-style way to decorate with them.

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  21. I had meant to convey “one” when I wrote “you.” however, I imagine you or one could enjoy that wherever you or one was employed–depending on office policy.

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  22. I went to an airplane hanger for an estate sale on time. There was a box of pens that were really nice and on sale for a buck. I bought them and at first felt sort of strange using this dead man’s private collection, and then I got over it.
    Another great story!

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  23. Holy hannah on a bike. A post about pens with 16 bazzillion comments. Are you a demi-god? If so, what is your demi-god name? I bet it’s something cool like Lazantora.
    Anyway, jelous of your new pens. That’s right, I have pens envy.

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    • It is a bit perverse that a post about something as innocuous as pens has struck such a chord with my readership, but I suppose that’s why this site is so appropriately called Lame Adventures. Pens Envy would have been an infinitely better title you words-mistress!

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  24. I miss that about living in cities: the giveaway table in the vestibule of your building. I got so much cool stuff from that table when I lived in Chicago, including but not limited to lots of books, picture frames, and a George Foreman grill. Where we live now, people just stack their old crap up next to the dumpster and put a note on it. We are all lucky if we can get to it before the raccoons do.

    Hilarious post! I love the way you write.

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    • Those pens were the coolest thing that I can recall sitting on the giveaway table in my humble brownstone, but if there was anything cooler, it’s been wiped clean from my memory, and could not have possibly been that cool. Even though my memory is relatively moth-eaten, I am sure I still have the capacity to recall if there was once a collection of staplers sitting there for the taking.

      Thank you for the compliment. I am a fan of your way with words, too.

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  25. What a funny post. I love that whole box of pens idea. My mom has a Red Solo Cup next to the telephone filled with blue, black, green and red pens. And pencils. Just in case you need to jot down a message. None of these have ink. And all the pencils remain unsharpened. Duuuuuuuuuuude. I get her new pens and they never seem to make it to that Red Solo Cup by the phone. If I lived in your building, I think I would have taken the whole box.

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    • I am guilty of having unsharpened pencils in a cup holder on my desk which is borderline criminal now that my colleague has setup a sharpener for us to share. I have no intention of ever sharpening those pencils … Just because. Every so often someone grabs one, eager to write with it until they realize that it hasn’t been sharpened. Possibly I manifest all my frustrations in life into those pencils.

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  26. I love a good pen, and would have had trouble passing that box up. For a long time I amassed a collection of pens, but gave them up after getting a couple really nice pens as gifts. I still have that “oooh” reaction when I see ’em, though.

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  27. I’m loving this! A writer’s relationship with pens, for a start—and the mystery provenance of these particular pens… Lovely post. 🙂

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    • Even though most of us bang out our stories on our computers, there’s still a lot of affection for hand-held ink. Thanks for getting over here. I will get back to your site. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately and have fallen behind in my blog-reading.

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