pen vs. pant

I occasionally do really stupid things. Generally, I learn from them. I haven’t tripped on the stairs and broken a glass in my hands recently. I haven’t careened down a hill on a motorcycle since I was 11 years of age. I lift with my legs, rather than bending at the waist to pick things up.

One thing I’ve never learned to do is to prevent myself from staining new pants (or shorts) from the inside out by fiddling with a clickable pen. At least three pairs of favorite trousers now show a dark black dot in the middle of my thigh. I have a PhD., I teach physics and I can lead backpacking expeditions. But don’t trust me with a liquid ink pen with a retractable tip. I’ll put it in my pocket while at a conference or in the field, and inevitably my hand will fiddle with, click, and forget the pen that will then dump a concentrated dose of stain right through my new clothing.

My latest, new pair of trousers is the recent victim. So pleased I was to be wearing the new dark khakis at the conference, so pleased to be carrying around an extra pen and notebook in my pocket. So pissed and mystified that I’d do that same stupid thing, once again. “And this is why we can’t have nice things,” I hear some parental voice, maybe my own, telling me from inside my head.

So, I might need to go back to training wheels, and only carry around pens with caps. Or pencils. Or pocket protectors.

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