It being Black Friday weekend, and the kickoff of the holiday buying season, there are a lot of new pens floating around social media. Pen makers and dealers are posting them, your friends are posting them, and every Instagram account or fountain pen forum has people posting them.
As this time is upon us, I shall now put on my “Ms. Fountain Pen Manners” hat. This is how a person with good manners responds to someone’s vile new pen they absolutely hate, or someone’s attractive new pen that comes in a box they don’t like, or whatever tricky situation arises.
1. A new pen arrives in dealers’ hands and hits Instagram. The color repels you; the material is garish. It’s awful. But your friends go gaga for it.
You want to say, “What’s wrong with you?! Are you high? That is molten aqua/orange/violet nightmare-fuel.”
Readers, that’s probably a tad harsh. Instead, try to dial it back, with the non-committal “Wow.” Or, the honest “Colorful!” Or, the trying-to-be-positive “I love the rhodium trim.” Or, if you think you can get away with it, “Bless its heart.” The latter is a favorite of Ms. Fountain Pen Manners, because Ms Fountain Pen Manners delights in throwing shade.
2. A company issues a pink pen, in a tacky box, targeted at women. You, being a person who hates pink, is of obviously superior intelligence and thus has appointed herself the Queen of What Every Other Person Should Like, object to the pink pen’s existence.
You feel you have to say, “This pen demeans and insults women. Why do companies think women like pink? It’s an outrage.”
Readers, this situation is one step more difficult. Because, first, you have to get your head out of your ass. Only then can you trot out the “Wow.” Or, “Colorful!” Or even, “Bless its heart.” Or, if you absolutely must register your objection to a pen that is pink, try something honest but respectful, like, “I’m not a fan of pink, myself, but it’s nice to see something different.”
See how easy that is.
3. Someone you know, perhaps Ms. Fountain Pen Manners herself, has bought two gorgeous pens, but both are white.
You want to say, “What’s wrong with you? You know they make pens in colors now, right? Why two white pens? Do you have two favorite white inks?”
Readers, this appears challenging, but it’s actually pretty easy. No, you can’t go with “wow” or “colorful” here. But try, “How refreshing.” Or, “You don’t see that every day.” Or, “So useful: that would work with any ink color.” Turn a negative into a positive; that’s the essence of good fountain pen manners.
4. Everyone you know hates the Lamy Safari, and loves saying so, over and over. Online, in blog comments, in personal emails, in texts, and right to your face in personal conversations.
You just want to say, “Oh shove it up your patootey.”
Well, readers, I’ve considered that fully, over the course of many long years. And I have finally reached a ruling. It is okay, in this one situation. Alternatively, you could go with, “You are wrong, and your taste is bad.” Either would be perfectly appropriate.