I am participating in a contest ....
Long ago, as a child, I sat impatiently waiting on the front steps of my home. Crew cut and inquisitive I had discovered a box top offer on the back of some Sugar Smacks for a fountain pen.
It had kindled daydreams of the Founding Fathers using quills to pen our beliefs. I was going to save the world with that pen. There were truths that needed to be told. Grown ups needed to heed the thoughts of fresh and knowing young minds. They were “messin’ things up somethin’ awful.”
I told my mother one summer morning, “Momma, I’m gonna save up and get this fountain pen.”
“ Ok Honey. You do that though I can’t for the life of me see why a seven year old would want a fountain pen! Wouldn’t you rather save for something you could play with?”
“No Momma. I NEED this pen!”
“ Ok Honey. You save the box tops and I’ll help with the mailing.”
Somehow I felt she thought I wouldn’t follow through. What she doesn’t understand, I thought, is that George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, they all knew the real truth, that “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
Look what the Declaration of Independence had accomplished. It had tumbled a world power like a line of dominoes. It had created a country like God created the universe. That pen had brought a king to his knees and by golly I was going to tell the world how it could be done.
I was going to pen my way into the hearts of America. I would write tomes to truth, tap dance my way into the hearts of mankind, toot the horns of progress, tell the world the answers til they were dancing on the rooftops!
When I was done they would make me president because I was so smart. I yearned for the love of mankind. I believed that we could mesh our souls to create a utopia of understanding. “Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!” “Hi Ho Silver … AWAY!”
I spotted the mailman way up the street striding down the Nessman’s driveway.
My heart began to palpitate as that blue clad public servant grew in my vision until he was nothing but a giant “Jungle Jim” hard hat and a pair of high black stocking socks on huge, hairy legs. He was holding out a small box to ME. I was receiving my first piece of mail. I thought I would explode with glee.
I don’t remember the mailman leaving. All I could see was that box as I worried it open. Then at last there it was, just like they showed it on the box, that beautiful, lacquered epistolary tool of the scribes.
“Hot diggity dog!” I held it for a moment just feeling it in my little hand. It was smooth, elongated, orb like.
Finally I had my very own fountain pen, my vehicle into the world! My uncles would sometimes pay me quarters to stop talking for fifteen minutes. I bet they’ll pay attention when I write a book. I just bet you when I’m famous they won’t be grinning that grown up “oh ain’t he funny” grin. I was jolted back to reality as I heard a car door slam.
I looked up from my reverie and there was my Dad. He was sort of a cross between Johnny Cash and John Wayne. He had a booming voice and always wore starched shirts and pressed pants. He stomped when he walked. It would cause all Mommas’ knick- knacks in the house to tinkle and shake.
I loved my Daddy but he could be plain mean sometimes, especially when he was just coming back from a work trip.
“Hey Beau … how’s my little buddy doin’?’’ he drawled with that lazy grin.
“Great Dad! Look at this fountain pen I got in the mail! I saved box tops and ordered it myself! “Ain’t it great?”
“Well Beau, I don’t think it’s such a good idea for a little fella to have this kind of pen. It breaks and you’ve got a mess that’ll never clean up.”
“But Dad that’s why I wanted it. It’s a grown up pen. I’ll be careful. I promise.”
“ I can’t believe your Momma would let you have such a thing … nothing but an accident waiting to happen. You let me have it for now. I’ll talk to your mother and we’ll see.”
He reached out his big ole hand and I couldn’t do a thing but hand over that pen. I want you to know my heart broke right down the middle. He wasn’t just taking a pen, he was punching me in the gut like he had drawn back in meanness and let me have it. He stomped away around the house and out of sight.
Hot tears streaming down my red, flushed and freckled face my blood rose to fever pitch, pounding in my temples. I hated him like a bull hates red, like a tiger hates fire, like a preacher hates sin. My heart raced and my knees went weak. I changed in that moment. I never saw that pen again and I never forgot how easily dreams could be taken away.
I’ve got boys now. They are truly a gift. I can be grouchy and say things so I wish I had just kept quiet. I try to remember though that a little boy’s dreams are just as intertwined in their hearts as our grown up dreams are. I try to remember to say I’m sorry. I hope I’m doing ok. I hope and pray that I have never taken away their dream.
My Dad is gone now. He died a couple of years ago. I loved him and sometimes I miss him bad … but he should have never taken away that pen.