Though, admittedly, much of my writing is really done by hitting plastic keys with letters on them, I still have a special place in my heart for the pencil. It is my go-to utensil when handwriting school assignments or doodling in a journal. I like how it isn’t permanent, how it harbors two opposites at each end: a lead tip and an eraser. It can be both a tool of creation and destruction. And it can come in a bunch of different fun colors!
My mom and I don’t go on our yearly trips to New York City to go shopping—we’d prefer to have more to spend on food. But, every so often, we succumb to the materialist pull of the city’s storefronts. One such instance happened right after we had finished eating brunch and listening to 20s jazz on the roof of the Hotel Chantelle nightclub. We were in the thick of the Lower East Side, and I was determined to lead us to CW Pencil Enterprise, a tiny, adorable ‘pencil boutique’ just a few blocks away.
The store was maybe ten feet wide and twenty feet long, barely big enough to fit six or seven customers at once. Inside, the walls were adorned with shelves and shelves of variegated pencils: fat, thin, flat, perfectly round, short, and in every color imaginable. There were also umpteen kinds of erasers, pencil-related books, and old-timey pencil sharpeners. To me, it was like a candy store…only with pencils. Can’t get much geekier than that, I’m afraid.
I’d describe the pencils at CW Pencil Enterprise as ‘gourmet’ pencils, fancier and more expensive (this is NYC, after all) than the pencils you buy regularly. Though one pencil here could cost about as much as a box of 100 at Staples, the pencils here had more character; you’d actually think about how nice the pencil is while you were using it.
To find the ideal pencil, I had to take a few test drives—or, should I say, test draws. I sat down at the small desk inside the store and thumbed through a drawer of test pencils, seeing how each one wrote in a journal provided. Soon I had settled on a few types: a cedar-colored, renewable, recyclable pencil; a box of rainbow pencils; a blackwing pencil with a flattened eraser; and a box of shiny teal-colored pencils, along with a satirical book called “How To Sharpen Pencils.” All of the pencils, I can attest, write splendidly.
My visit to CW Pencil Enterprise proved that you don’t need to be stuffing your face with gourmet food to experience New York City. Sometimes, a ‘gourmet pencil’ does the trick just fine.