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Pen pal

Aline.WeillerEvery writer has their pen. I’m fond of the complimentary pens at TD Bank North. Very. In fact, I run errands close to any bank branch or make separate trips for transactions to score a freebie at the deposit slip counter. As a journalist and essayist, there’s just something about the pens I relish: their chunky torso conducive to a firm grip, their cheery green plastic shell, their reliable clacking click. Each drawer in my midst is home to a healthy reserve. My pen has doubled as a dependable sidekick, priceless wing woman, and the ultimate, steadfast writing companion.

Some writers go the fancier route: Mont Blanc or Cartier, others opt for a plethora of popular Pilot pens, still others may choose the basic Bic. I’m a fan of an ‘everywoman’s pen’ — the core characteristic embodied by my lovable writing implement. I hoard at least two at all times. Party purses pose space limitations, but I manage to squeeze in at least one of my precious TDs. I’m an English Major’s English Major, rendered incomplete sans my pen. My very thoughts vanish without it; my mental inkwell is left essentially empty. It’s a withdrawal I don’t fancy and have been known to barter pro bono publicity for a TD or two.

On the rare occasion my TD pen dries up, I miraculously happen upon a spare — at the bottom of my beach bag or under the driver’s seat after a car wash — and marvel at it as if I’m parched in the desert, imagining a water-filled mirage. Like a hair elastic, I keep them stashed in the corners of my life. And feel a bit betrayed when someone ‘accidentally’ keeps one, or my kids ‘borrow’ it. If the TD is one day discontinued, I’ll be the frenzied writer surfing eBay, paying a fortune for a vintage edition.

I’ve seldom strayed from my go-to fav’, but for the time when the bank replaced it with a slimmer, younger model. I was nonplussed, to say the least; I rebelled. Yes, there was a brief time when my TD pen and I were apart —  Like Friends’ famed TV couple, Ross and Rachel — “we were on a break.” That skinnier version just wasn’t the same; I tried to remain faithful, but couldn’t get my groove back, so…I pen cheated. There was my short-lived tryst with a miniature Tiffany ballpoint I’d gotten for a milestone birthday. Oh, and that summer affair with a red, Rollerball felt tip, when I went on an editing bender, not to mention my brief stint with a certain tangerine-hued Pentel. I wince to think of my one night stand with that little midnight blue number from the Ritz Carlton.

Though I did stay true to ink; as I’m no mathlete, it’s easy for me to resist the charms of even the sharpest No. 2 pencil. Other than those minor transgressions, I’ve been a one pen gal. To my delight, the unmatched TD pen and I are back together — corporate came around and sensibly reembraced the original. I cheerfully applauded the comeback and contemplated slipping into a little black dress for our reunion.

I’ve since noticed the trusty TD is used by many in the service industry, and feel an immediate kinship with those toting it. It’s as if we’re comrades unaware, or distant cousins meeting by chance, through mutual friends on Facebook. Just last week, the Planet Pizza delivery guy and I shared a moment, declaring our joint preference for the pen. And yesterday, I was equally stoked and bonded with a waitress who enclosed it within a pleather credit card holder. A youngish Millennial, she was not quite as enthused as I, but still agreed the TD was her pen of choice.

With this fervent community of TD pen enthusiasts abounding, I’ve contemplated a secret handshake or even launching an old school fan club, of which I’d be the overzealous president. Or perhaps, I could organize a bona fide lovefest called PenCon, where we’d all wear green attire or maybe sport those snappy, V-neck vests donned by TD’s tellers. I could even develop a catchy tagline and collectively convert others in search of the perfect pen. But until then, I’ll continue campaigning for its admiration and use.

My loyalty has deep roots. The TD and I have experienced much together — it’s the instrument through which I’ve penned endless ‘to do’ lists on oversized, yellow legal pads (my affection for said pads garners an entirely other essay). Not to mention its use during my middle-of-the-night inspirations in the form of nearly illegible words, titles and phrases scribbled on uncooperative ATM receipts or coated magazine covers. My TD pens have inked childhood memories in a keepsake journal, my signature on mortgages, and my son’s early decision agreement. They have scribed the ideas that germinate and become the very backbone of my essays. The TD is an extension of my very essence, mapping the magic of me.

— Aline Weiller

Aline Weiller’s essays have been featured on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop blog, Brain, Child Magazine, Scary Mommy, Your Teen and Skirt, among others. She’s also the CEO/Founder of Wordsmith, LLC — a public relations firm based in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Follow her on Twitter @AlineCWeiller.

Reflections of Erma