Tuesday, November 15, 2005


(A special thanks to a special Monty for the inspiration for this posting. It was stu-pen-dous!)

In her own inimitable way, she asked the esoteric, but burning question, "Have you ever stirred your coffee with a pen?"

Based upon the comments from the Peanut Gallery, I mean her fans, I thought I might be reading excerpts from True Confessions. It seems that the greater portion of them were guilty of this act that Emily Post would surely find appalling.
....All I'd have to say to Emily is, "Lighten up, woman. Don't get your panties in a bunch! Besides, nobody really cares what side of the plate the pate knife is placed."

As I stand up in front of the others who have attending this meeting of Pen Stirrers Anonymous, I am nervous at first. I am not new to these types of therapy sessions, indeed just last week I attended my first group meeting of Pen Chewers. That, however, is for discussion some other time. Swallowing hard and tugging at my collar, I open my confession with the obligatory "Hello. My name is Mike and I stir my coffee with a pen!" There is some light applause and a chorus of welcomes from those before me.
....I sense that you, the blog readers are as captivated as the attendees, hanging on my every word as I bare my soul. I find it interesting that one's innermost secrets is actually the meaning for penetralia, which happens to begin with the syllable 'pen.'

Working in an office in the Financial District of Boston for twenty years, I have dipped my pen countless time. No, I wasn't 'dipping my pen in company ink!' That I was dipping my pen in company coffee would be more correct. As I was saying, I have a lot of experience in the art of stirring coffee with pens. Yes, there actually is an art to it. Emily Post missed the boat when she failed to recognize the etiquette of pen stirring. As a matter fair play, from henceforth I shall stir my coffee with a pen and whilst sipping the contents of the cup, I will extend my pinkie to display at least a semblance of sophistication. I will not, however, cease to lick clean that pen after it has stirred the coffee.
....As in life, there are the right ways to stir coffee as well as wrong ways. One should always remember to never dip the nib of a pen into the coffee. You should always place the other end of the pen into the brewed contents of your cup. Immersion of the nib could cause undue problems, especially if the pen in question is to be used to sign documents or checks.
....While wiping the pen with a napkin, tissue, paper towel, or your neck tie all accomplish to clean it, you are denied the chance to taste the coffee before bringing the cup to your lips. By licking the pen clean you are afforded a chance to savor the coffee and to prevent a case of "bitter face." If, on the other hand, you choose not to employ this option, you run the risk of the boss or clients being witness to your face contorting and the unwanted appearance of your tongue as you spew forth the liquid. I don't know about you, but I never wanted to be the sacrificial lamb when it comes to being the first to sample the coffee that is served in office meetings.

....As a public service, I will impart to you the types of pens that make the best stirrers. My stirrer of choice is the Bic stick pen. It is of sufficient length to reach into and stir the contents of the largest of the take-out cups from the various franchises. If you happen to also be a pen chewer, the teeth marks and flattened surfaces of such pens provide a larger surface area, hence a more efficient stir. If you are among those who use those erasable ink pens, besides being a crossword puzzle cheater, you will find that more coffee adheres to the eraser. While this will provide more coffee to be lapped off, it will take some time before the eraser is sufficiently dry enough to be used for its intended purpose.
....There are of course, those pens with the clear barrels with a cap that always seems to turn up missing and a clip that never seems to clip in a shirt pocket. These pens are okay for small mugs and cups, but they are much too short for the larger containers. On a trip to one of those super-stationery stores, like Staples, you can find a great deal on 12-packs of various sizes and shapes of these coffee stirrers. It is an example of marketing genius that these stirrers can also be used as pens.
....I would be remiss if I didn't offer some advice on those pens that are not desirable as coffee stirrers. I trust you don't need me to tell that fancy pens with feathery plumes on one end should not be used to stir your coffee, unless you don't mind giving the impression that you had fresh squab for breakfast. I feel that I must ask you to use extreme caution if try to stir your coffee with a fountain pen, as this could prove to be distasteful.
....There is one specific faux pas in the art of pen stirring that I most definitely need to point out to you. Usually expensive, those designer pens, like Cross pens do not make good stirrers. Oh they work, don't get me wrong. Repeated immersion into coffee can cause eventual damage to those instruments. The coffee, especially with added sugar or artificial sweeteners, can clog up the workings of those pens, sometimes rendering them useless.

I hope, if only in a small way, that the above advice concerning pen stirring will prove helpful whenever you desire your next cup of coffee. I have only provided a small list of servicable stirring pens, but you should try the various brands, shapes and sizes that fit your particular needs.

I wish to offer one more bit of information for you to digest. If you are applying for a new job, or your first job, take the oppurtunity to check out the facilities, especially the coffee station. If you happen to notice that there are Bic stick pens next to the cups and sweetener packets, you can be assured that it is a well organized and cost-efficient company. You should also be impressed if the stirring pens are in multiple colors. The appearance of a coffee station is important. A clean coffee station is preferrable, of course. An array of stirring pens in reds, blues and greens makes for a colorful display and announces the fact that the company cares. It is a company you where you feel proud to be employed. You do want to work there.



blue said...

Ahh, I too am guilty of stirring coffee with my pen. Guess I'll see you at the next meeting. Quite a few interesting posts since I've been away at work. I don't like Chinese food either. Quite a nice brain photo there. Nice part 2 to the Gilligan parody. And congrats on 8000 hits. Leave anything out? lol.

Miss Cellania said...

The reminds me of my workplace. Always a lack of inkpens, they are carried off by the roving Sales Department. We were discussing winter illnesses. I threw in the line "... since we all pick our teeth with the same inkpens anyway." You could see the horror in everyone's eyes when they realize they aren't the only one!

Tenderheart said...

...And then there are those who use pens to clean their ears...ever see them??? be careful of WHICH pen you are stirring your coffee with...lol (wink)

aka_monty said...

See how easy it is to confess when someone else does it first?? ;)

And can I be vice-prez of the club?

I have to be careful of reading your posts whilst I am at work, because I start laughing out loud and then of course everyone looks at me (all two of them) and then I'm busted for blogreading on the clock. :)

(Luckily, I'm the only one here at the moment, so it's safe)

Anonymous said...

commenting on the amine... I'm the nail' society's the hammer. Ain't been beat in yet!!! Have fun with life.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Well, here we go again. The toilet paper goes over the top. The coffee is stirred WITH THE NIB END. Keeps the nib from being clogged. I thought everybody knew this, but apparently some of you have been fooling yourselves.

jipzeecab said...

I used to run a business in "Southie". On a day when just coffee wasn't enough I used to load a full pack of nestle's milk chocolate in the styrofoam cup before using fresh coffee as a disolving agent. What a treat...stirred not shaken..with a bic stick pen!