So we’ve all been there, you’re in a situation where it’s reasonably obvious that you have a pen/pens on you and someone asks the feted question: ‘Can I borrow a pen?’ The palms go slightly sweaty as you try to think of a way of explaining that whilst you do in fact appear to have lots of pens, you don’t actually have one to lend. In this post I thought I’d curate some of the ways I’ve come across for trying to exit this situation without looking too peculiar.
1. Just lie.
Probably the least morally defensible way out, but sometimes in a situation where you really haven’t got time to explain the ins and outs of fountain pens it might just be easier to forget that you have a pen on you and instead join the hunt for a Bic.
2. Use a decoy
Consider carrying an alternative writing instrument that you don’t mind lending, be it rollerball, pencil, gel pen or ballpoint. The one pen I always carry with me is my Graf Von Faber-Castell Guilloche, which I also have a matching mechanical pencil for. If anyone asks to borrow a pen I just give them that, which usually seems to work. If you just want an easy non-awkward way out, this is probably it.
3. Blind them with science
A little more morally defensible than just lying, most people have heard something to the extent of a fountain pen nib adjusts to your hand, so you could always build on that fact.
4. Explain your reasoning They say honestly is the best policy, well don’t underestimate the value of that sentiment. Most people are fairly reasonable and if you offer a fair explanation as to why you’d rather not lend a pen then it’s unlikely that they’re going either judge you or decide to take your pen by force.
5. Actually lend them a fountain pen Of course if the would be lender seems interested and trustworthy, then why not lend them a fountain pen? Maybe pick and choose what you lend them carefully, something with a rigid nib, probably one that you won’t be distraught about if the worst happens. Maybe a pen where you can cheaply and easily replace the nib too, something like a Lamy Safari would really come in to its own here. The bottom line is that most people aren’t pen destroying maniacs, and that with a bit of careful guidance most people are probably going to be able to use a fountain pen without any catastrophe occurring, so go ahead, lend a pen, you might make another convert to the fountain pen cause.
So, closing thoughts… Well don’t take the above too seriously, some of them are a bit tongue in cheek and not all of them are going to work in every situation. Use common sense and judgement in combination with them, if your boss has just seen you using a pen then asks if they can borrow something to write with don’t try and pull a Jedi mind trick on them and claim not to have a pen. Equally if a dear friend asks to borrow a pen probably don’t try and blind them with science, they’ll likely either think you’ve gone a bit strange or are bring rude. But with a bit of common sense I think the above might help you avoiding to have to lend a pen you’d rather not, or even to be bold enough to lend the right person the right pen.