Dan misplaces things. It’s part of his deal. Sunglasses, watches, wallet, keys, phone, sketchbook...mechanical pencils. God only knows where they run off to. Ideas, memories, relationships, words...he loses those too.
Alas, sometimes these things are gone forever. But sometimes they come back.
For more than three decades, Dan has shared a remarkable relationship with his beloved white Koh-i-noor Rapidomatic 0.5mm #5635 mechanical pencil. Purchased from the Tulane University Bookstore in 1985, it has accompanied Dan for most of his architectural journey--apart from the times he has lost it, which are many. No matter how long it goes away--two days, two weeks, two months, two years, twelve years--it just keeps coming back.
The twelve year loss (2005-2017) was the result of Dan inexplicably placing the Rapidomatic into a slim blue box of mechanical pencil erasers, at the bottom of his fishing tackle box-like "Art Bin." There it lingered, buried alive in its little box with a bunch of sad, white rubber Twizzler-like eraser units**, themselves forever doomed to a life not lived.
There, in the rubber-smelling dark, Dan’s pencil waited. There it waited, and waited--while the economy ebbed and flowed, while Barack Obama came and went, while the Royals lost ten years in a row, then won, then lost again--until Dan came upon the box of erasers, during a fruitless search for Staedtler Mars tape dots. Even then it waited, as the box was lifted and quizzically opened. Only then, waiting complete, were the two reunited.
Seeing his 32-year-old friend--feeling its comfortable heft in hand, clicking its precision clicker--sent Dan over the moon. He immediately showed all of his co-workers, who, not being mechanical pencil people, empathized with Dan’s good fortune for an appropriate number of seconds before their eyes wandered back to their computer screens. Ah well.
Then, two weeks later, he lost it again...this time for two months.
...until yesterday, when it re-appeared in the jacket lining of his Brooks Brothers suit jacket. It had fallen through a quarter-inch hole in the inside pocket, and tumbled down inside the jacket--in between the lining and the outer fabric--until it came to rest atop the beefy, extruded pencil-shaped stitching that formed the jacket’s bottom hem. It’s a miracle that Dan even noticed the pencil--he was actually looking for his (lost) $19 Foster Grant cheater sunglasses by blindly patting down all his sportcoats in his closet, when his hand happened to evince a mysterious lack-of-give in the bottom hem of his suit jacket. Et Voila! The Rapidomatic.
So, for now, the Rapidomatic remains found. And with its rediscovery, buried memories of clicking, drawing, writing--even erasing--over the previous three decades have also surfaced.
Dan is grateful for this latest visit from his beloved pencil--even with the knowledge that while it exists in his hand for the time being, it is being pulled, ever so slightly, somewhere else.
The sunglasses remain missing.
**For the under-initiated, Mechanical erasers were a red-hot item in the pre-digital drafting era of “plastic lead on mylar.” As computer-aided drafting muscled its way onto the scene in the 1980s, the quaint tools of technical drafting precision (such as lead holders, adjustable triangles, eraser pads, eraser shields, and the like) were chucked into dusty boxes and banished to the back corners of supply rooms. Or dumpsters. Or--for those who have a hard time saying goodbye--into Art Bins.