Saturday, June 09, 2007

NERDISMS: The Pencil Case.

I love my pencil case. I've had for about ten years. It's is brown leather and just a little bit longer than a newly sharpened pencil. I'm always looking for new pencil cases. But so far, I haven't found anything I like better, which is nice because how often do you purchase something that still makes you happy ten years later?

It's hard to come by a good pencil case in America. If you go to an office supply store and look for pencil cases, mostly what you find are the flat variety that are supposed to fit into a notebook or three ring binder. These are made out of plastic or heavy duty nylon with mesh or some such underinspired thing. Kids' pencil cases (which are found in the school supply section) are a little bit better. They are sometimes in the shape of a favorite cartoon character like Sponge Bob Squarepants or something. But still, where are the secret sliding compartments for erasers and lunch money like they had for pencil cases in days of old? My students from other countries often come to class with very fine pencils cases. I notice, generally speaking, that my Japanese and Korean students have especially good ones. I understand you can get a good pencil case in Paris, and I know you can get a good one in London too.

Mine is rounded like a semi circular tube. The leather is thick, and it's the kind that gets better with age and use. There are no secret compartments, but it is quite roomy and I can fit a lot in it. Here's what I have in my pencil case: an excellent 3 inch folding ruler which unfolds to a full twelve inches, a small pair of scissors, a pen light flashlight (you never know when you might need one), a honey bee eraser, two triangular pentech pencils which are designed to NOT roll off your desk when in resting position, three vintage bakelite pencil sharpeners in red, yellow and orange (more on those in a future NERDISM post), a very compact red and yellow one hole punch, two red pens (one of which telescopes) and a small all-in-one tool which includes tweezers, scissors, a screwdriver, a bottle opener, and a variety of pen knives which means it would not be permitted as a carry-on when boarding an airplane.

I do not however carry any food in my pencil case, not even a roll of Necco wafer candy (which would, nonetheless, fit very nicely.)


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