Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sniffing the season.

I like walking outside this time of year. It's not yet so cold that I am miserable.* It's merely invigorating. The air has that winter, snow-on-the-horizon, Christmas-is-coming scent that I love. So, when my husband needed to head to the office for a few hours this morning, I decided the bub and I would go outside and get invigorated. I was wary of the park because it rained yesterday. I wasn't sure I was up for bub and a sandbox full of mud and wet sand. (When he got home, the hubby was a prince and took the bub to the park and let him play in that sand box). I decided the bub and I would walk to Walgreens, which is maybe a mile and a half away. What did I need and/or want from Walgreens? A candy cane pen.

Surely you've seen candy cane pens. They are pens in the shape of very skinny candy canes, predominantly red with thin white stripes. For years, these pens were a constant in our St. Nick's stockings (my mom put together awesome St. Nick's stockings, NTB). I have distinct and wonderful memories of using the candy cane pens during finals time in college. I marveled at how smoothly the candy cane pen wrote. I enjoyed being able to hook the pen behind my ear--it is a cane, after all--when it took my fancy. Most of all, I loved the smell of the candy cane pen's peppermint- scented ink. Loved it to the point of picking up pages of notes I had taken and sniffing them with gusto. Loved it to the point where I would find specks of blue ink near my nostrils.

I probably received my last candy cane pen sometime during college, but that candy cane was literally the gift that kept on giving. Over the next four years or so, that candy cane pen would turn up from time to time. I used it once to edit a paper I wrote on The Merchant of Venice and Othello for a master's class, a paper that I wrote around Thanksgiving time. Several times, I serendipitously happened upon the candy cane pen when I had a stack of student essays or projects to grade. When you're reading your sixth personal narrative about moving to Mason or about how someone's best friend has "always been there for" her, peppermint-scented ink can really be a solace.

Looking back, I'm not sure how I made it through my first few years of graduate school in Chicago. How did I crank out those 25-page final papers without a candy cane pen? How did I get into that special finals-will-end and Christmas-will-come mood without one? I'm telling you there's nothing like a candy cane pen for helping you craft a thesis statement. Nothing like a candy cane pen to remind you of the joys, food, and free time ahead once the damn papers are finished.

The bub and I made it to Walgreens feeling invigorated. I scavenged the holiday aisle until I found the display. There they were: candy cane pens at 3/$1.00. In my excitement, I purchased six. Just hours ago, I took one out to make a Target list. The words "baby wash," "trash bags," "printer paper," and "dollar-aisle holiday books and cutlery" appeared in black ink. But candy cane pens are supposed to write in blue ink. And, though I distinctly remember the display touting "peppermint-scented ink," I haven't had a whiff yet. And candy cane pens are supposed to smell wonderful. Apparently these pens have changed in the last ten years or so. I am still holding out hope that the candy cane pen of my fond memory is out there, and I ask you readers to scour the drug and novelty stores in your area for a candy cane pen that writes in blue ink and smells like heaven. Until then, I will muddle through with the six inferior pens I have. I'm even going to try to simulate a sort of finals-time experience as a way to trick myself into making more progress on my dissertation. At least my nose will stay clean in the process. NTB.


*NTB, but I just purchased a new North Face puff coat (with a coupon, NTB) so I don't plan to be miserably cold anytime soon.

6 comments:

Actchy said...

::bowled over by wave of nostalgia::

I can see you and your Candy Cane pen in the PE study lounge, likely sitting beneath one of several homemade "Exam Schedule" signs. Yours read "Crap to do, hoops to jump through." B.G. wore yellow sweat pants and ate an entire basket of fruit during the course of one hour. M. played with her Orgo molecule tinker-toy thingys. The tubas from the ND band came and serenaded Mod Quad. D. got a weird rodent/cougar-shaped gold pin with gemstone eyes as a gift from her aunt. And all was well with the world.

I'll be on the lookout for the pens.

E... said...

One of the best teacher gifts I ever got was not from a student at all, but a candy cane pen from you, picked up in a late night session at Drug Emporium and hand delivered to me in the Love Hallway. The last I saw it, it was in my spare bedroom on the dresser, and every time I straightened up, I couldn't bear to throw it out, not even on a hot summer day.

While you're sniffing out the season, may I recommend a book for the bub if you don't already have it? It's called the Sweet Smells of Christmas, and both J. and I had it as children and were THRILLED when my mother in law found a new one for O. last year. It's a little bear at Christmas, with scratch and sniff pages for all the great Christmas smells -- pine, gingerbread, even an orange in his stocking. MMMMM.

M said...

A new shopping mission for me - blue ink, peppermint scented candy cane pen. It was such an easy thing to do all those years ago. It would be my delight to have one for your St. Nick stocking.

CJR said...

I don't see how the candy cane pen, even with scented ink, could compare to the quad color ballpoint, with four retractable ink containers. Were some of these abused and ultimately broken? Yes.

PITA said...

I once bought them as a reward for my students at the Ridge. I believe I caught Moneaja sticking one very close to her nose proclaiming..."dang, miss. p these pens smell so good..so good, so good."

Anonymous said...

I happened to read your blog because I was searching the internet for the candy cane pens from my childhood as well. They remind me of my long lost friend Libby from 4th grade (that was 1975 eek!). I had the same disappointment as you when I bought the cheap knock-offs at Walgreens. Nothing was right about them. Not the look, the feel, the color, and definitely not the weak peppermint smell.

I found the real deal on ebay and purchased a box of 25 for $12.50!!! They are the exact ones we have been looking for. I just opened them and my kids love them as much as I do. That is good since I have so many at my disposal now.

Good luck!

Kim

PS I placed the order on the 18th and received them today (21st). Not bad.

 
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