In school long ago, it was customary to get uncomfortable swelling and indentation to the side of the finger constantly feeling pressure from gripping a pencil. Pencils were, and still are, mostly hexagonal to prevent rolling off a desk. If students used round pencils, there would be the maddening sound of them dropping onto the floor throughout a class, not to mention temptations to agitate others while bending over to pick up a pencil. Schools might grind to a halt. This might be worse than the cell phone dilemma that no one has yet solved.
At some point, however, a steady user of pencils discovers the comfortable feel of a round pencil. There is a sensational, tactile sensation when rolling a pencil around between one’s fingers. It is soothing. The problem is finding round pencils. There was a time when I would go to Butler’s Antiques in Hopkinsville to find them.
Owner Raymond Butler’s store is eccentric enough to have most any household item and from any possible era. Nothing is too unlikely because Raymond doesn’t throw anything away. Our daughter-in-law, Mindy Coatney, loves to look for hidden treasures in the chaotic piles and shelves of Raymond’s unlimited space for things that trickle down from estate sales and make for enticing opportunities amidst what to most people is the left over junk.
I would visit Butler’s because one shelf had a mug with old pencils. Some had the name of a school; others had the name of a business or a candidate running for office. Colors varied, but the point was a round pencil. Then I happened upon the “Mirado Black Warrior” at Rite Aid. Ah! The supply held out for years until one day there were no more round pencils, no more packages of the Mirado.
Filled with chagrin and distress, I stewed. Not the quickest, I finally thought of ordering online. But does everything have to be online? Then it occurred to me to see if Cornette’s Office Supply had them or could order them. What a relief to see Sandy West once more find a needed item in the catalogue and say, “They should be here in a couple of days.” I wasn’t out, but supplies were getting low at home and at work. Sandy had once found me the weighted refrigerator magnets the size of a tiny chess pawn. What is more frustrating than a cheap refrigerator magnet that won’t hold a photo or clipping in place, and which falls down under the refrigerator when the door is closed too hard or when someone brushes against it.
Back to pencils, my friend, Louie Lewis, was a user of pencils I noticed, but not round pencils, so I held up a Mirado one day and extolled it. He marveled. Picking up on this, I decided to surprise him, so I put a box of them in his mailbox one day. Now he gets that big grin on his face when the subject of pencils comes up.
If spreading thin bands of graphite onto paper is routinely part of your life, you might consider a round pencil. Granted, a round pencil needs to be scotched with another desk item, or put in a pocket, but it’s worth it. As the world goes round and round, so does the round pencil smoothly between my fingers when working, or simply relaxing, rolling it between my fingers.