Gero-Punk Adventure: Crush with Fountain Pen

A week ago today I met someone new and I think we could become friends. I liked her instantly and I think she may have liked me, too.

This potential new friend has the coolest name ever! (Alas, her name must stay a secret for now as we are yet official friends and thus I’m not authorized to share her name in my writing.) She also has awesome hair! And I love her glasses!

Let me describe her with a bit more detail so you get the picture.

Her hair is bobbed (side-parted) and shimmering.  She’s about my size, give or take a few inches and pounds. Her glasses – oh, her glasses! – are heavy black frames, more triangular and cat-like than mine are (and actually exactly the kind of glasses frames I yearn for but can’t wear.). She carries a really keen handbag.

The moment I saw her, I wanted to know her.

(Yikes! I’m sounding pretty shallow here, describing my attraction to her surface. Perhaps I should tell you about how we met.)

 +++

She with the oh-so-fantastic name was a participant at an informal presentation I gave.  The topic of the presentation was: What are your aspirations for this new year?  What new thoughts do you want to think? What new things do you want to learn? What new adventures do you hope to have? (This is a story for another time, but some of the participants at my presentation rebelled at the “open-ended” nature of my questions.)

She lingered after the presentation ended. She was the last to leave.  I was still seated at a table, jotting notes down in my journal with a fountain pen.  She noticed I was writing with a fountain pen and became very excited. She asked me if what she thought she noticed – that I was writing with a fountain pen – was in fact true, because if it were true it would be the most wonderful thing ever. I confirmed that it was indeed true, I was writing with a fountain pen.  So we began discussing fountain pens and calligraphy. She informed me that most young people these days don’t know what a fountain pen is, unless they see one in a movie.

She asked me how I knew about fountain pens. I told her the story of my long-term, intense relationship with fountain pens, a relationship that began in my girlhood. Of course, I had a preamble to the story, which was that I have the worst handwriting ever (Do I hear an “Amen, sister!” from my students?), which is ironic, given my desperate love for fonts and writing implements and beautiful paper. Any way.

I described to her how for at least one childhood Christmas I requested – and received– a real fountain pen set, the kind with the quill and different sized nibs, and little pots of India ink.  Oh, joy! I commenced to teach myself calligraphy. And in the process of learning about calligraphy, I also discovered a wholly unknown world to me: the history of fonts and type-setting and illuminated manuscripts. As it happened, after my family moved from California to a little farm in Oregon, one of our neighbors had an obsession with calligraphy of such a magnitude that as a result he had accumulated calligraphy magazines which he stacked in neat piles in the basement. Upon discovering our shared interest, he chose a few old copies from the piles which he gave to me. I poured over them, selecting esoteric fonts to serve as my practicing templates.

+++

I hadn’t remembered any of this for a long time. In actual fact, I don’t think I had ever remembered any of this until the day when I met this potential new friend with the coolest name ever and she admired my disposable blue fountain pen. I felt good meeting a potential new friend and I felt good remembering that I was once a girl with an obsession for fountain pens and calligraphy.

+++

After I finished reminiscing about calligraphy, she asked me where I had found the fountain pen and if it was expensive.  I told her that I had found it at the university bookstore and also online through Amazon and that it wasn’t that costly and that the only downside is that you have to throw it away once the ink runs out but that they made great stocking stuffers (my daughter loves them!).  She seemed so truly enamored with my fountain pen that I couldn’t resist offering it to her. She refused the offering. She said she didn’t have her wallet with her so couldn’t pay me for the pen.  I said that it was fine she didn’t have her wallet because I refused payment for gifts, that I wished her to have the pen as my gift.  And yet, she resisted.

Then I took a gamble based on a hunch and pulled out my pen case. I showed her that I had in my possession three disposable fountain pens – blue, red and purple.  Once she realized that I wouldn’t be going around without a fountain pen if she accepted my gift, she acquiesced.  Ha! My stratagem worked!

I asked her which color she fancied. She said she always fancies blue.

+++

The rest of the day I thought about her and about our unexpected encounter. I was so excited that I just had to tell someone so I told Simeon that I might have found a new friend. He asked me to describe her, so I told him that she has the coolest name ever and then I told him her name. He agreed: Coolest. Name. Ever.

Then he asked how old she is. I might be a gerontologist, but I’m terrible at the age-guessing-game, so I said: Not yet twice my age. Then I said: Maybe her age is between 70 and 90? I’m really not sure. What the hell do I know about what age people are?

I hope I see her again soon.

About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. As of 12/21/15, I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past fifteen years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (8th edition). I live in Portland, Oregon with my dog Happy. My daughter Isobel is a Sophomore at Bard College in New York state. I have been on the planet 49 years.
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One Response to Gero-Punk Adventure: Crush with Fountain Pen

  1. Nicola Bemister (Cox) says:

    I have to tell you that straight after reading this I contacted a young friend of mine (16yrs) who is also a friend of my daughters. She has just the most amazing strength of character at such a young age. She has travelled from another continent just as I did when I was young. She has an ongoing health issue but she gets on with life. She studies hard. She is a good friend to my daughter. I had said we should have coffee to catch up but hadn’t done anything about it until I read your blog. So without delay I contacted her and we have now had coffee and a catch up. She is my friend. Her name is Shantili. (She said it was OK to tell you)

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