Ever seen those cheap mechanical pencils that come in bright colors of plastic, and which retail for about 40 to 60 pesos (about USD 1.00) over here? Well, I had been carrying one around for almost two years now.
Last night, as I was hurrying to a little gathering with Clair, Marcelle and JM, the end-cap of my mechanical pencil came off. You know -- it's that little plastic thing that covers the cheap eraser stuck to the non-writing end of the device. The problem was that I was coming out of an ATM partition at the time, and in the two seconds I needed to realize that I had lost the cap, the wind and the rain had already claimed it. I cursed.
Every now and then we get attached to a little personal item that we seem to use all the time. Maybe it's a worn notebook or a sketch pad. Maybe it's a cellphone, or a wristwatch. Maybe it's that digital camera you bring around to interesting events, or your three-year-old rubber shoes. For me, it happened to be this cheap mechanical pencil. We'd been through a lot together, after all.
While the pencil was still usable even without the cap, the eraser at the end was now exposed to the elements. I knew that the tiny sliver of rubber would be rotting away within a couple of months, preventing me from ever refilling the pencil lead again. So whether I liked it or not, my favorite little pencil was now effectively useless.
It was an easy matter to trot over to the nearest bookstore and purchase a new mechanical pencil. (43 pesos, for anyone who's interested.) I made sure to pick a model where the end-cap looked as though it had been tightly screwed on.
But then there was the matter of how to retire the previous pencil properly. I believe that most people are more practical in this regard, because it's easy enough to just throw the old thing away. It would probably make even better sense to sell or hand down such old favorites so that they can live out their last days in the tranquility of usefulness.
This was a mechanical pencil, though. It made little sense for me to hand it down to people who had access to even better writing or drawing implements, and it made even less sense for me to sell it and expect more than two paper clips and a bit of used gum in return. The only way to resolve the situation was to simply throw it away.
Unfortunately, I seem to become an impractical person in the worst of circumstances, because I actually wrapped it up in a small package of paper and let it rest on one of the shelves in my room. The mechanical pencil had served me well for almost two years, and there are some memories that should really be repaid, I think.
Besides, it's got a lot of stuff up there that can keep it company. My old college notebooks are there, for one, and my completed sketch pads, and all the old books I have with the pages torn out.
Right now, I've got a brand-new mechanical pencil resting in my pocket. I'm expecting it to last about as long as its predecessors, or at least long enough to give me some good memories. One day, years from now, this pencil will also fail and die like much everything does, and I'll be putting it to rest with full honors.
I'm such a sappy romantic sometimes.