Last night was the annual “Modified Yankee Swap” meeting of the Pen & Pencil Club of Prince Edward Island, the highlight of the fountain pen-based social calendar in Charlottetown.
The “modified” comes from two important departures from tradition: the gifts at play come from The Bookmark and its suppliers, rather than the participants, and the gifts are actually desirable rather than “amusing and impractical.”
I left the night with a lovely Monteverde fountain pen (with a magnetic cap!) and a copy of Danny Gregory’s new book.
In other words, I left the night with just about the perfect gifts, as if tailor-made for me, despite having started the night with a jigsaw puzzle and some (admittedly desirable) Pilot ink. The trading fates were good to me.
There was, for a club about pens and pencils, remarkably little talk of pencils and pens, evidence that, for many of us, they are partly something of a conceit for getting together with other weird people.
The lack of nib-talk was due in part to the remit from host Dan to “tell the group something they don’t know about you,” a task everyone commendably rose to. So there were a lot of stories of lost passports, altitude sickness, bagpipe playing, African Grey parrots, and pen-adjacent hobbies.
The evening was hosted at The Pilot House, with free-flowing hors d’oeuvres throughout. At some point the allure of bacon-wrapped scallops busted through my vegetarian shields, and I went a little mad with porcine gluttony.
I was thinking recently about the number of peer support groups I’m a member of: families of trans children, parents of autistic adults, grief support. I realized last night that my monthly night with the stationery-mad for the past three years has been an important source of peer support in its own right, and I owe my fellow weirdos a great debt of thanks for that.
We all need a night once in a while where it’s okay to eat bacon-wrapped scallops, talk about our parrots, and admit an unusual fondness for certain types of paper.