And Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out


I have a beautifully carved wooden pencil holder that my husband bought for me during one of his middle-eastern tours. It tells a story. You see, it's full of pens I've collected over the years from various hotels. I have an obsession with hotel pens, I horde them as if there is about to be a shortage.

A few days ago, when we arrived at our hotel, I took a look around and said to my husband, "Alright! There are three pens here. One on the bedside table, one on the desk and one in the little suite area on the table by the sofa." My husband raised his eyebrows. I quickly did the math. We're here for two nights so if I put all of these pens away in my purse tonight, the maid will replace them tomorrow and I'll leave here with six pens. Yippee!!!!

My husband doesn't quite understand my glee. He firmly believes that if I ever run short on pens, I'll look at him and say, "Baby, we need to go check into a hotel for a couple of days to fix this problem."

But there is a method to my madness. I hate government-issued pens. You know the ones, those black ones with the push-top that say something like, "property of the US Government" in tiny white letters. Why do I hate these pens so much? For several reasons.

First of all, they stink. They don't write very well, the ball point is an odd size and sometimes the ink globs at the base of the ball point. It's just not a quality writing instrument. I remember signing a lease once with one of these monsters. I'm quite sure the property manager wondered if a first-grader had kidnapped me and signed my name. Well, that, or he may have thought I was a doctor. At any rate, the signature was globby and icky. Can I offer some unsolicited advice? When you're signing your life away, DO NOT use one of these pens. Or, you could use one of these pens and if for some reason you ever need to challenge the authenticity of the papers, you might just win based on the terrible output that these pens are capable of delivering.

But there's another reason I hate these pens, a more important one. My silver-turned-purple dryer. My dryer came with a bright, shiny silver interior. Very lovely. Bob Barker's gals would have been proud to point to that dryer. Apparently a government-issued black pen had a grudge against the gleaming silver interior of my dryer and couldn't wait to mess it up. It plotted and planned and one day it executed the plan by exploding inside of my dryer. Casualties: two sets of BDUs, a few tan shirts, some Army green socks and one dryer. Oh, these pens may not appear threatening, but trust me, they are evil. Evil, I tell you. Evil and sneaky.

How sneaky are these pens? Remember the old BDUs? They had those tiny little openings in the breast pocket which were made specifically for these tiny little evil black pens. The pens would purposely bury themselves inside of these openings making it hard to see them, feel them and remove them before the BDUs were thrown into the dryer. They knew exactly what they were doing.

To make matters worse, these pens do not use birth control. They multiply faster than you can say, "get that pen out of here." The government is certainly getting their money's worth. The pens must cost them one cent per 1,000 pens. Those 1,000 pens multiply at an astronomical rate and so on and so on and so on.

After the dryer episode, I banned those government pens from my house. I took the pens that had wormed their way into my pencil holder and I put a rubber band around them and I told my husband to take them back to the government building from which they came. But I soon discovered that a few of the pens snuck out of the pencil holder and hid in various drawers and got about the business of procreating. Imagine my anger at this disturbing discovery!

I have an ongoing fight with these black, government-issued pens, and I think I've reached the point where I will be writing a letter to Secretary Gates soon to explain why the DoD needs to find another vendor from which to purchase pens. I mean really, have these pens changed since WWII? It's time to move on, and move up.

Back to my obsession with hotel pens. The hotel pens have never plotted an attack on my laundry or schemed to destroy the interior of my new dryer or sought to destroy perfectly fine ACUs. Nor have they ever failed me in my time of need by making my signature appear sloppy. Oh, and I don't have to push a top to turn them on. A little thing, but still... The only problem with my beloved hotel pens? They do not procreate at the rate that government-issued black pens do. I'm working on this. Perhaps a few more hotel stays are in order.

Whoops. Gotta run. I see an intruder. He's dressed in black, a bit thin and oozing. He's outta here...

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