Sunday, June 1, 2008

Where did all the pencil sharpeners go?

Yesterday, at the bright and early hour of 7:45 in the morning, I took the NYSTCE. Now, the test itself was not interesting. Between 7:45 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon I took two tests, which is two more standardized tests than I have taken in the past four years and the only scantron bubbles I have filled in (minus my time abroad). The real story here, starts on a hot Friday afternoon...

It was hot, or at least I perceived it to be hot after leaving the cool air conditioned apartment I have been inhabiting for the past week. I was dressed in far too many layers, but I had a mission: buy pencils, sharpen pencils, get a good nights sleep. I entered a seemingly normal chain drug store and went in search of said pencils and pencil sharpeners. Quite quickly I found those banana yellow pencils and beside them an array of mechanical pencils. I picked up both and continued my search for a pencil sharpener, but there wasn't one anywhere, the store did not sell pencil sharpeners.

Did I miss something? Isn't a pencil sharpener a drug store staple? But they had none, so I made my purchase and left. I walked to the hotel, getting stopped by a man dressed as Elmo who tried to tell me no doubt about a promotional deal, and continued on my way. After putting the materials in my hotel room for the night I set out for the mysterious pencil sharpener that seemed to allude my grasp.

I walked, and walked, and could not find another drug store. Then it hit me, a gift shop, because what seven year old doesn't collect pencil sharpeners. So I entered the drug store like any New York tourist and asked if they had pencil sharpeners...

"Excuse me, do you have any pencil sharpeners?"
"Oh yes, they come with nice New York pencils too."
"No, I Just want a pencil sharpener."
"But they are very nice pencils."
"I'm not a tourist, I don't need New York pencils..."

I'm not sure he believed me, but either way I still had to by the pencil sharpener with pencils and all. Now, I know that I had these mechanical pencils. Something inside of me didn't want to use them. There was something comforting as a child about sharpening a pencil. Whether it was the familiar sound of an electronic sharpener, the force involved in hand sharpening, or the art of getting that perfect point, pencil sharpening is comforting. Like macaroni and cheese or the smell of your parent's hair pencil sharpening brings me back home. So I went back to the hotel and sharpened every pencil I had bought in preparation for the hours of test taking ahead of me. I just wanted to know, what happened to all the pencil sharpeners? Where did they go and how can I get them back?

No comments: