Living Retired — ‘Slip of the Pen’
Living Retired — ‘Slip of the Pen’
By Gary Chalk
Jan and I have not travelled very much since Covid-19 confined us to home. During our two years of covid couple confinement I tried my hand at cooking, while Jan held a dish towel in her hand — frantically waving it at the smoke alarm. Finally, after religiously preparing all these burnt offerings we travelled to Ottawa for a couple of days last week.
Driving along Highway 401, I suggested to Jan we should celebrate our first road trip since Covid. “I’ve had enough coffee I think we should stop at every service centre to pee. It will be just like old times.” No response.
Checking in at the hotel it was as if nothing had changed: I signed the papers, picked up the room key, and walked away with the hotel pen.
In the elevator Jan said, “Gary, do you realize when you picked up the room key you also took the pen?”
“Sorry Dear, I don’t know what to say other than it was a slip of the pen.”
The following day we enjoyed lunch sitting outside on the Chateau Laurier patio overlooking the Rideau Canal and parliament hill. The view was priceless. So was the bill! “Gary, you did it again. You signed the bill for lunch and kept the pen. That wasn’t a slip of the pen. That was highway robbery!”
“Yes Dear, just like the price of our two glasses of Prosecco and Caprese salads!”
Mark my words I have always had a thing about collecting pens. On my desk I have a coffee cup from The London School of Economics where our son studied for his Master’s degree. The cup is filled with pens that remind me of the cheques we wrote for Tyler’s expensive overseas education.
I counted. There are 27 ballpoint pens in the cup. All of them are inexpensive promotional pens from a bank Jan and I have accounts with. For years every time I went to the bank I would sign the deposit slip and then walk away with the pen. I am not identifying which bank because if they find out they may try to get even and begin charging exorbitant service fees. Oh wait, they already do!
It gets worse…
“Gary, have you ever stopped to count the number of pens you have in the top drawer of your office desk? It is embarrassing.”
“Dear, have you ever stopped to count the number of plastic Tupperware containers you have in the kitchen cupboard?” No response.
A few years ago in England, 25 to 44 year old’s were encouraged to ‘reacquaint themselves with the contents of their desk drawers.’ It was called ‘Check Your Drawers Day.’ Imagine if they launch ‘Check Your Drawers Day’ for seniors! On second thought that may be messy so let’s nix that idea.
I celebrated ‘Check Your Drawers Day’ yesterday and discovered my desk drawer contains a plethora of pens. I was embarrassed to tell Jan exactly how many pens until I had a stroke of genius: to make it sound better I used Roman numerals. Even though they are confusing to some, ‘I for one’ (now that’s funny!) understand Roman numerals.
“Dear, in Roman numerals I counted CXVII pens in my desk drawer.” Jan was having none of this. “You steal pens, pal. You are a scriptoclepto.”
Jan has called me many things. When we go shopping she says I have a depressed retail profile. She calls me a lug-nut because of my inability to do anything mechanical. She says I am a wimp because I won’t call the cable company to negotiate a better deal…
Hey wait. If I can find a pen I’ll write all these down.
‘Living Retired’ is written by humour columnist Gary Chalk.