I’m going to admit that my first glimpse of the Charged Green pen in the flesh was disappointing. I had liked the color in photos, but in person it wasn’t exactly appealing to me. A little vivid. A little strange.
I hate to say it, but the dreaded word “neon” comes to mind. As in, Neon Green Safari and Neon Yellow Safari. This could almost be the Neon Chartreuse Al-Star.
But keep in mind that I have a very low tolerance for neon. So while this might take me a little time to get used to, other people will no doubt love it. “Finally, a bright Al-Star,” they will say. Or, “I’ve been waiting a lifetime for a vivid chartreuse pen.”
And it is easy to see it in low light, after all. I wonder if the “charged” came to Lamy’s mind because it’s as if someone stuck the pen in a light socket. Or if it was inspired by that MGMT song: “ooh girl you shock me like an electric eel.”
Anyway, I buy all the Al-Stars and Safaris, whether I like them or not, so I am okay with it. It is unusual. And there’s the ink to look forward to.
Before inserting the cartridge, though, I need to peel off that sticker on the pen body, with the pen’s name, barcode and sku number. It’s strange, but that wasn’t exactly easy to remove. And, when I did, I saw a lot of sticker residue. I’ve never seen that before with any of my other Al-Stars. Which is all of the Al-Star colors Lamy has ever made.
I go to work on the sticky residue, first using the back of the sticker itself, then with a piece of adhesive tape. I don’t want to use a solvent on the finish. But that sticky mess proves persistent.
Two or three minutes in — and I am not exaggerating — I haven’t made much of an impact. I started to curse Lamy and their sticker adhesive. I am thinking, “Lamy, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.”
But then I get an idea: if this is going to take so long, why not just put on the actual song? That is, “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” from LCD Soundsystem.
That’s a four minute fifty-two second video. I know, because I had played every bit of it before I vanquished the last traces of sticker. But at least I am now in a happy mood, singing along.
Here’s a photo of the pen without sticker. The pen is brighter in real life, but it’s a decent depiction of the color itself.
With the pen all cleaned off, it’s time for the cartridge. The ink color is promising.
I’m not a Lamy cartridge user, so it takes a few seconds to figure out which end is which. Then a hard push to get it in there. But it works.
However, then I need to assemble the pen, by screwing the pen body onto the section, and that turns out to be unexpectedly difficult. Because there’s a bit of plastic residue right on the screw threads.
I can’t believe they didn’t notice it when they put the pen together, but I hope they passed it through anyway because that residue will wear down with use. Because frankly paying $9.50 plus mailing expenses to have Lamy deal with a manufacturing defect wouldn’t seem fair.
But I’m sure it will work out. In the meantime, I put the pen in the pen cup upside down to let the ink flow. I take a few photos. Here’s that dastardly sticker.
I then check the pen’s ink flow. And it’s weird, but nothing is happening. I pull out the cartridge — the end is opened, but nothing is flowing.
The ink is stuck. First the sticker, then the screw threads, now the ink. Excuse the pun, but I’m beginning to feel overcharged for this experience.
At this point, I put the cartridge back on, put the pen nib down again, and click on LCD Soundsystem’s “I Can Change.” Because, you know what? I can change. I don’t have to buy every Lamy Al-Star and Safari. Right? Do you hear me, Lamy?
The song lasts five minutes fifty-four seconds. I then check the ink flow. But there is none. Bizarre. Time for David Bowie’s “Life on Mars.”
Four minutes one second later, still no ink flow. If this is going to take all day, I need more than ironic musical commentary. So I decide to take out an ink syringe and multitask. I use the syringe to pull out a few drops of ink from the cartridge. I can do chromatography strips of the ink while waiting.
I put the cartridge back in place, and lo and behold, removing a little ink did the trick: I can see through the pen’s clear section that ink has immediately started flowing through the section.
But, hey, what about swabs? I pull the cartridge and syringe out some more ink. I make ink swabs. Oh my gosh. This ink is so light in color it looks … neon.
Actually, it looks nearly invisible.
I hit the player button and listen again to “I Can Change.” Gosh darn it, Lamy. “Love is a curse, shoved in a hearse.”
I pick up the pen and write with it, though. And far from invisible, the ink is a decent medium green, getting lighter with each letter. But okay, how can that be? I’ve seen the swabs and the chromatography. Wait a minute. Oh, yes, Lamy tests each pen with Lamy Blue before boxing it. So there were a few drops of Lamy Blue in the section.
I put on LCD Soundsystem’s “Someone Great.” That’s six minutes twenty-six seconds. During which time, I doodle happily. I scribble out the rest of the Blue — which didn’t take even one minute, but, hey, I love that song.
The doodle is now featuring what seems to be the ink’s natural color. The ink Charged Green is a light green, but it does, thankfully, appear on the visible spectrum.
Charged Green ink is a nice color, actually. It’s legible and bright without being eye-searing (or neon). It’s cheerful. I like it. I’m thinking, however, that it was lucky I bought this pen with a medium nib instead of my usual extra-fine.
And I’ve now gotten used to the color of the pen itself. While it’s not what I expected, it’s perfectly fine. The precise shade of shiny yellow-green was initially a little jarring to me, maybe. But I can change.
And it looks nice with the Pearl Al-Star.
Also with the “Purple” Al-Star.
So, all’s well that ends well.
Here are my initial ratings, out of 10: Ink 8, Pen 7.
Cartridge 2. Sticker -10. LCD Soundsystem 9. David Bowie 11.