I’m not one to incessantly gnaw the ends of my pens, but I know plenty others who do. I’ve often wondered how, why and when a person acquires such a revolting habit. Though I’ve never figured out the “how” and “why,” I’ve seen at least one potent example of the “when.” Given the circumstances though, I would’ve been better off remaining in the dark.
Last night my sister-in-law stopped by, along with her two kids. Her sartorial expertise had been requested in choosing the perfect outfit for my wife’s impending business conference. At the time the doorbell rang, I huddled in the media room getting set for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Obviously, the hockey gods didn’t wish me to view the game in peace. Moments after her guests’ arrival, Sophia poked her head in and instructed me to watch her niece and nephew for “a few minutes.” Naturally, she added her customary “and don’t screw things up this time” before handing the tykes over.
Bitter experience has shown that a “few minutes” of Sophia-time can mean anywhere up to two actual hours. Consequently, steeling myself for a long haul, I sought to interest five-year-old Franco and four-year-old Maria in the hockey battle. I surprised even myself with the excitement I added to my exclamation: “You kids want to watch something really, really fun?!!!”
A chorus of eager “yeahs” greeted my question, followed by the expected: “What?”
I tried to sound thrilled in responding: “Hockey!!”
Five minutes later, Maria issued the first in a series of “I’m bored!”
After ignoring three such pronouncements, I asked Franco what I could do to keep his sister occupied. He carefully considered the question before replying: “She likes pens.”
“Pens?” I queried.
“Yeah. She likes chewing on them,” he advised.
Since the game had already started, I didn’t want to run off in search of a writing implement. I instead asked Franco to grab a pen off the desk in my office. Engrossed in the on-ice struggle, I barely noticed either his return or the sight of Maria’s subsequent macular maneuvers. I did, however, register the blessed absence of any further protests of boredom.
I didn’t think to examine Franco’s selection until Gina retrieved her children from my care and called attention to the object she’d extricated from her daughter’s mouth. Only then did I recall the gag gift I’d received from my brother last week, which I’d haphazardly tossed into the pen holder on my desk. Frank had thoughtfully mailed me a trio of “Peni Pens.” And yes, as the name implies, their ends are shaped to resemble penis heads, with a pair of miniature balls attached. Thanks to my niece’s efforts, not only does one of the set currently fall a ball short, but its head now sports a distinctly Jewish air as well!