Shu and Unpolished Shu.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that every fountain pen fan past the beginner stage must be in need of a Nakaya.
I didn’t exactly help myself resist the pull of the Nakaya. At the Chicago Pen Show, I spent a lot of time at the Classic Fountain Pens table, because Jessica is awesome. But there were Nakaya testers at the table. Given that … it only makes sense that I had to try every nib, and every pen model, more than once. After all, there might come a day when someone might need me to buy a Nakaya. So I should be ready when called upon.
In this fantasy, I settled on the model Naka-ai with a finish of Unpolished Shu, and I was thinking about a stub with flex. Those were so nice, both to use and to look at.
And then, a few months later, a pen flogger of my acquaintance had a used Naka-ai in Unpolished Shu at the DC Pen Show. What could I do? What could anyone do?
That became Nakaya Number Two. It has a spectacular double broad nib, to which Classic Pens had added flex and a stub grind. The nib is divine, and easy to use. Nearly everyone who uses this pen loves writing with it, including me. I also love how it looks: Unpolished Shu is matte, elegant and understated, and the shape of the Naka-ai is attractive.
If you are familiar with Pride and Prejudice, you will know that our heroine originally dismissed her first suitor because he acted like a conceited ass and also tried to wreck her sister’s life, which, to be fair, are not good qualities in a person. And he had a bad reputation in the neighborhood. Instead she was taken with a charming fellow with a pleasing disposition and excellent manners, whom everyone liked. Until circumstances eventually brought her to a fuller view, and made her realize she’d misjudged some important things.
In this story, I am her. While I was looking at all the Nakayas, I blew right by one model, the Piccolo, on the grounds that it was a little small. I also must have missed entirely the Polished Shu finish.
Enter Nakaya Number Three, a Piccolo in Polished Shu with fine nib. This Nakaya I found online, after being tipped by a friend.
I did intend to give the Piccolo in Polished Shu just a slot or two on my dance card, after which I knew I could sell it onwards. Remember: I knew I was safe. I had tried the Piccolo at the Pen Show, so I already knew it was just too small. I’d read that on the internet, too, years ago. So it must be true.
Unfortunately, when I got to know the Piccolo in Polished Shu better, I realized I’d been misled. Leading to the next book on our syllabus:
One Hundred Years of Insolvency.
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when he opened his browser.
The truth is, by the end of the Chicago Pen Show, I should have stopped buying all pens. It still would have been a very successful year in pens, and a very spendy one. But that was the first weekend in May. These Nakayas came into my life months later. And in the meantime, there may have been a few other pens, too. Which we do not need to talk about, or mention, or even acknowledge.
Hence, the firing squad.
So, I’m going to sell the pair of Shu’s.
That will leave me with none — but faithful readers certainly will breathe a sigh of relief when I can no longer employ that particular pun.
Nothing is forever, except perhaps memories. Which brings me to the next book.
Last night I dreamt I went back to the Decapod again.
I still may keep the pair of Shu’s for a few weeks, until the Ohio Pen Show. But I already miss the Decapod. Its finish was Shiro Tamenuri, a warm brown over a warm tan, which is so beautiful I wish Nakaya hadn’t discontinued it.
In a fun coincidence, by the way, I met a great woman at San Francisco who had a Nakaya in the replacement finish, called Toki Tamenuri, which is very nice, but not the same as the Shiro.
Odds are I’ll never come across another Decapod in Shiro Tamenuri. And I knew that. I kept saying, “If that had any other nib, I would sell everything else and just keep it.”
And okay, sure the “sell everything else” part is hyperbole. Or, if you’re cutting me a break, poetic license. But I would have sold a bunch of pens for that Decapod, including my new Sailor. And I probably couldn’t have bought the Pelikan M600 Vibrant Orange.
Would that have been better?
Call me Ishmael.
You know what? It would not have been better.
I’m grateful I got to experience that beautiful pen. But there will be new experiences.
Which reminds me of something.
Adventures of Huckleberry Pen.
I reckon I got to light out for the Territory.
None of this looking back, or even staying in place. I have the Pelikan Vibrant Orange on the horizon. A new adventure.
The Great Folly.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the pen cup.
All this happened, more or less.
steals from, no pays tribute to, sorry, is inspired by A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Rebecca, Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse Five.