Behold the mighty #2 pencil! It is an understated object, with its body reminiscent of the color of a school bus (which were yellowish orange in my neck of the woods.) It feels much slimmer in my grasp now as compared to my elementary school age hands. It is an object that brings back memories. I happened upon the pencil whilst waiting for Better Half to complete his doctor’s appointment and found comfort in it.
The smell of lead and the smell of lead applied to paper is still familiar to me. The very sound of the leaded point as I scribble my notes is like hearing a forgotten symphony. “Tap Tap” accompanies each punctuation mark or capped letter and at the beginning of each stroke. I can not help but notice that my handwriting has not improved much since my youth.
I relish the rough fell of the exposed wood under my index finger. It brings to mind scantron tests (“Class, take out your #2 pencils…”) and ropy yarn used to tie back bunches of hair. I think of Mickey Mouse pencil cases, Strawberry Shortcake and Holly Hobby book bags, Bionic Woman and Little House on the Prairie lunch boxes and the ever-present scent of those damned pens that smelled like fruit. I owned none of these things (with the exception of the Bionic Woman metal lunchbox.) Much like the boys, I preferred a simple #2 pencil and a cheap blue or black pall point pen.
My mind harkens back to the dusty school room in Simi, where my classmates and I frantically write our hearts out, our heads bent low as we toil to pour forth our knowledge during a pop quiz. The lead slowly wears down from the effort as the very winds wear down the summit’s peak; I cast my eyes about in search of my Pink Pet eraser that was lost so many decades ago. The classroom silence is punctuated by the occasional sniff of breath from a child or the soft grinding “schk schk”of a manual sharpener.
The quiz time would run out and the tense scowls would slide off our faces like eggs slipping from a Teflon pan. We would raise our desk lids and stash our precious #2’s in the pencil rack, then snatch up our recess necessities and snuffle towards the door. The pencils, much like the unvarying test schedule, would always be waiting for us upon our return.