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There is something to be said for wooden pencils; therefore, I shall say it. I love them. I love writing with them. I love sharpening them. I love the way they look. A yellow Ticonderoga can almost make me weep. A pencil is so unassuming, yet so powerful. It is not permanent like an ink pen, but that very property allows it to be incredibly versatile. It is by no means as agile and professional as a word processor, but it will always be more personal and comforting than the harshly printed Times New Roman. (Unless your handwriting is entirely illegible. In this case, for the sake of all concerned, please put those Number 2s safely away where you can do them no harm.)

I suppose I am bordering on the whimsical here (if I have not entirely crossed the threshold already), but I feel rather ashamed of my treatment of wooden pencils over the years. Once I placed my eager fingers around a mechanical pencil I decided I would never again use a wooden pencil. I was finished with pencil sharpeners of all kinds! No more broken tips! Never again would I hear the terrible squeak of the metal band around a worn-out eraser! From there on out I would never use any pencil other than a 0.7mm. I felt no emotion other than sheer bliss when I found that Paper-Mate had a mechanical pencil with an extendable eraser. I knew certainly that this was not some minor love affair. That Paper-Mate pencil has long been my brave companion for written deeds of all sorts, doodling, arithmetic, and Sudoku alike. Meanwhile, wooden pencils had simply become a nuisance to be reckoned with yearly over standardized tests. But somehow, I have had a change of heart. I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it is the price of growing older, I truly don’t know, but I now find a sort of antique romance about wooden pencils that grips my heart. Mechanical pencils are practical and long-lasting, but they are also serious and austere. On the other hand, wooden pencils change, wearing away bit by bit, but they are steadfast like soldiers marching toward the front lines. They scratch quietly at the paper while one must click incessantly at a mechanical pencil. Sharpening, far from being a chore, has become a beautiful ritual, timing the final turn of the pencil to attain the most perfect point. There really is nothing so wonderful as writing with a perfectly sharp pencil.

I will not put away my Paper-Mate for good, but I am no longer blinded by my practicality. I have become a partner with good old Number 2, not a domineering master, and we work together better than I ever thought we would. I am looking forward to this new adventure we will share.