There’s a pencil on the coffee table next to me and I don’t know where it came from. It’s a “DIXON® No. 2 / HB,” yellow (well… pencil yellow: somewhat orange) pencil with a full (though old, useless and hardened) eraser. It’s sharp enough to write with, but not really ‘sharp’ in an idealized, infinitely-pointy way. I can’t help but wonder how it got on my table, how old it is, and whether it’s actually written anything interesting.
Oddly enough, this mysterious pencil reminds me of my maternal Grandparents. They used to hoard things like pencils and cereal, buying large quantities of them at a time when they were on sale. Eventually, when one of us needed to write something or eat breakfast, they would disappear into some unknown crevice of their house and later reappear with a brand-new-ancient writing implement or box of Rice Crispies. I still like to think that there was some hidden room in their house that had a magical machine with dozens of unlabeled buttons and dials on it and a crank on the side that could produce virtually anything that you wanted. I picture it as kind of like the ‘Food Replicator’ in Star Trek, but with more of a Rod Serling than Gene Roddenberry vibe to it. Who knows… Maybe it really did exist. I’m not going to let something as fragile as ‘reality’ rain on my parade.