Thursday, January 12, 2012

From G-2 Pens to Nostalgia...

Today, I finally got a look at the infamous G-2 pens.  One of the sixth grade boys was in the hallway coming from the bathroom when the teacher on hall duty noticed all the pens in his pocket. 

"Hey, look at all those pens you have!" 

He proudly lifted the edge of his shirt so she could see the multi-colored beauties, all lined up like soldiers in his front pocket.

"Wow - that's quite a collection! Are those the G-2 pens I've been hearing so much about?"

"Yeah..."  you couldn't wipe the smile off his face if you tried, it was so huge.

"What's so special about those pens?"  she asked him.  "Why does everyone want them?"

How can one explain the love of an eleven year old boy? "Because they come in all different colors, and you can take them apart, and switch out the ink inside... they're really expensive" he added, "they're like a dollar each"  This, I find ironic, from a kid in an age where they think it's not unrealistic to want a new game system because they just came out with one decorated with Gears of War designs.  

"That's it?" she pressed.  "I know of lots of pens that come in all different colors - why are those so great?" 

Clearly willing to demonstrate a newfound favorite subject for her, the boy took one of his pens out of his pocket and kneeled down on the floor right there in the hallway.  He unscrewed the pen and removed its contents - an ink tube, a spring, a small colored plastic cork of sorts.  The hall duty teacher immediately began humming the theme from Mission Impossible, which is ironic, since that's what I used to humm in my head when I, bored in class, would take apart and reassemble my own pens way-back-when.  Does that make me a total nerd?  Does my use of the word "nerd" make me old? But I digress...  He reassembled the parts of his pen in a different order, then aimed the pen slightly up and out, and pressed the tiny pen-trigger, and launched the ink tube...

...a measely three feet, at best. 

"...and you can shoot em" he said, trying to sound casual, but clearly in awe.  Ah, the real reason for his fondness was suddenly, glaringly apparent.  "you know, if those were mine," I said, "I'd get the springs from TWO pens and find a way to put them together to make it shoot twice as far."  Clearly, sometimes I should just keep my mouth shut, however, I'm not sure my suggestion registered with him. 

Later, when I got home, I told my son about these pens.  He suggested we look it up on Youtube, which is his version of Encyclopedia Brittanica.  Well, lo and behold, 9 million videos on Pilot G-2 pens, and how to make them into missiles, etc.  We searched the house and found two perfect specimens already in our possession.  We followed the instructions and made our own poorly shooting pen-missiles. Of course, my son being my son, he immediately attempted the two-spring suggestion, but he said there's a ridge inside the pen that makes using two springs impossible. Oh well.  

All this got me thinking about what kids collected when I was that age... and I thought of those combs that everyone had sticking out of their back pockets - they came in a multitude of colors - I think all pastels. I think they were Goody brand - I do believe I even saw them in the store recently, although not in the vast array of colors they had back then.  They had rounded handles with a tiny hole in the center, and the teeth were rounded as well.  If you were really cool you had all the colors, and you chose a comb each morning that matched your outfit. 

For shooting things, there was the standard rubberband, sometimes shot alone, or loaded with folded papers, which my own kids call paper wasps.  I didn't know they had a name, but when you're hit with one, it stings like hell, so that name makes perfect sense.  As a kid my husband used unfolded paperclips in what he calls a "paperclip fight."  I threw paper clips, but I don't remember shooting unfolded ones with rubberbands - I heartily believed in the "you'll shoot someone's eye out" theory.  Of course, if I had shot paper clips with rubberbands, I might not admit to it now.

When I was in sixth grade we all collected these weird, stickers that came in gum (or maybe you just bought them outright?  I can't remember) ...they were parodies of famous products that were currently out on the market, like Heinz Ketchup.  The sticker would be an exact duplicate of a Heinz Ketchup bottle, but instead of Heinz Ketchup, it would be called something like HEINOUS Ketchup and it would have green chunks in it or some other gross thing.  What WERE those things called?

Ah, who can dictate the things that appeal to kids in each age?  Remember Silly Bandz? and that was only two years ago.  And so we come to the question:  will anyone remember the furor over G-2 pens in thirty years?

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