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When I was a younger lawyer, just a few years into practice, I was at a giant firm. An important firm. A prestigious firm. At a prestigious address. With prestigious clients.
I thought I should have an important and prestigious pen. Not because I wanted something pleasing to write with, but because . . . well, bottom line, it was simple pretentiousness. I wanted other people to see me with the pen.
So I bought a Montblanc ball point for $99 at Office Depot. (That's not a Montblanc in the photo, just a cool close-up photo of a ball point.) And while the writing experience was a secondary consideration in the purchase (at best), I was still looking forward to what I thought was going to be an amazing writing experience. It turned out to feel like any other ballpoint. (Maybe I wouldn't think so now, with my more refined "pen palate."). But I used it anyway, because I was pretentious.
Bad me. Bad, bad me.
I didn't really care about my pens, and having an expensive one didn't change that. I ended up losing it within about two weeks, and it served me right! Better yet, no one but other lawyers in the office ever saw me with it, and I can tell you they weren't impressed.
Now that I'm "into" pens and paper, I'm not worried about pretense at all. I buy now for my own enjoyment. While I might like to show off the Waterman Carene I plan on buying next month (as soon as Flax announces its May sale), I won't be buying it to show off. I'll be buying it because I think it's beautiful and writing with it will bring me pleasure, and it won't matter to me if I'm the only one who ever sees it.
I am, however, worried — just a little, really — about a bias based on the price of a pen. I haven't spent much on any one pen yet. My most expensive is the Pilot Knight ($48). When I buy that Carene, am I going to believe that it writes better than the Pilot Knight because it really does, or because I spent 5 times as much on it?
UPDATE (9/23/10): Chris at Pens 'n' Paper takes on pen snobbery.