When I was nosing around stores looking for gifts last week (Or was it week before last? December is now a blur, barely worth remembering), one thing surprised me a little: A plethora of fountain pens. Perhaps plethora is not the right word. I saw more ballpoint and gel pens than fountain pens. Perhaps there was a plethora of those.
The reason I have the impression that fountain pens were plethoric (in plentiful supply) is that it has been years since I saw anyone using a fountain pen, and years since I received anything written with a fountain pen, or wrote anything with a fountain pen myself. Based on that, even one fountain pen in a store would have been plethoric. But there were whole displays.
I remember using fountain pens when I was in high school and college. At best, they were messy. Taking lecture notes with a fountain pen was risky, because one never knew when one would run out of ink.
Ballpoints weren’t all that good back then, either, but when they did improve, it didn’t take me long to put away my fountain pens for good.
Over the years, I have tried writing with a fountain pen, and the passage of time has made things no better. The output is still blotchy, my fingers still get ink-stained.
So, I wonder, why would anybody want to buy a fountain pen and give it as a gift?
Maybe it is the same kind of thinking that makes Congress believe it has done a good thing with the legislation it has fashioned to keep us from going over the alleged fiscal cliff. When you look at the legislation, it is just as sloppy as the legislation it is meant to replace. It solved no problems. It just delayed solutions to problems.
If Congress were to stay home this year, we’d all be better off. Congress is a lot like a fountain pen — unless it improves, we can get along without it.