Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gel Pens

If you have noticed, we over here at Children of the 90s have been pretty caught up in the back-to-school spirit. There's something about fall that brings all of us 90s nostalgianiks right back to our frantic scrambling office-supply store shopping trips. We would all try to use our intuition and summer-accumulated wisdom to buy the most coveted back-to-school items, but there was little way of knowing whether your choice was going to sink or swim in the classroom implement hierarchy. It's a cruel world, and we might as well have learned it at a young age. There's nothing quite like ridicule and public shaming over what we were toting in our pencil cases. It's probably what's turned us into the humble adults we are today.

The problem with school supply trends was that we could hardly look to fashion magazines for our social cues on what to buy. Instead, we had to simply hold our collective breath and hope that whatever we'd haplessly shoved into our OfficeMax carts was the wise choice. Would Yikes Pencils be in or out? Would Clueless's Cher's feather pen still be the highly coveted item of the back-to-school season, or were Troll pencil toppers the way to go? It was enough to etch premature wrinkles into our juvenile brows.

There are, however, some school supplies that spoke for themselves. When we saw them in the store, we simply knew we had to have them. They had a value all their own, not only because they were popular, but because they had real appeal. Not to mention we knew deep down, even from a young age, that if one of these babies would set our parents back $2 a pop versus the fifty cents or so they'd shell out for a regular pen they just had to be great. After all, the pricers wouldn't lie to us. They know real value, and we had to be prepared to pay for it.

Gel pens quickly became a veritable writing implement phenomenon, flooding into middle school desks everywhere with a barrage of metallic colors. These things were legitimately impressive, for school supplies. We had never seen this type of performance before in a pen, nor had we particularly cared when it came in the drab shades of blue and black favored by rival pen producers. Gelly Rolls, though, these things were impressive. Not only did they come in a vast spectrum of visually appealing shiny colors, but they could write on all sorts of surfaces! What more could you ask for?

Sure, our parents were probably less than pleased when we came home with homeroom-drawn gelly roll tattoos graffiti-ing our bodies, but at least it was still a step above opting for permanent ink. My mother unleashed upon me a slew of old-wives' tales of how the ink would permeate my skin and lead to all sorts of terrifying blood poisoning, but I saw right through it. Well, I did at first. My vision started to blur after the fourth or fifth day, now that I think about it. I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

Gel pens had pretty incredible powers, really. For one, they could write on black paper. I know, I know. Maybe I should give a minute to let that sink in. Black paper. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I know I hadn't, until I bought a colored multi-pack that came complete with a pad of black paper. I sat there staring at my new acquisition, thinking, Why, it just can't be. How can a pen write on a piece of black paper? I couldn't quite wrap my head around it, but suffice it to say I was sold. Yearbook signing would never be the same.

There were a few prototypes in particular that particularly astonished, amazed, and amused us. I wrote many an origami-folded note to my friends, imploring them "W/B/S" (write back soon) and declaring my feelings via LYLAS (love ya like a sister). Among the most popular on the market were:

Gelly Roll

These were truly the original impressive gel pen. They were so shiny. Really, just so so shiny. My mind is riddled with mental ADD at the mere thought of them, so just imagine the effect they had on real live kids attempting to take notes with their sparkly, sparkly ink. Ooh, sparkly. I'm sorry, what were we talking about here?


Though now the name sort of makes me want to vomit, in middle school we were completely enamored with these pastel-hued pens. These things drew on everything, leaving no drawable surface on my body, clothing, and schoolwork untouched by the magic of their soft hues.

Marble Ink

Described by their manufacturers as "a milkshake of colors", these pens were a teacher's worst nightmare. To receive a handwritten essay that gradually shifted from one end of the color spectrum to the next and back again was nothing short of a grading nightmare. Kids were certainly entertained by them, though, so it would take more than simple chastisements to stop us. We had pen rights, dammit, and we were prepared to exercise them, color-induced nausea aside.

Sure, there were a few kinks in the process. Namely, when the inkwell in the pen's core began to go dry, these things were nearly impossible to write with. You'd scratch through your paper just trying to get some color out of it. And don't even get me started on the moments of gel overload. Believe me, these splotches were not pretty. Okay, they were kind of pretty, but that's not the point. It's hard to take an algebra answer seriously when half of the equation is obscured by a giant shimmering pink blob you're forced to turn into a flower to make it less conspicuous.

Regardless of their minor flaws, these babies were golden. And silver. And bronze, and well, you get the idea. My technicolor-dreampen-case was brimming with shimmery, shiny colors and for a brief moment in time, it was enough to hold my attention and entertain me in class. If only I could get as worked up about office supplies now. It's hard to picture me hugging my stapler or spooning with the fax machine, but I'm willing to give it a try. What can I say? I'm a dreamer.


nicole mountz said...

oh gel pens. and milky pens...what memories! i actually knew a girl who used gel pens AND mily pens as eye liner in highschool..weird!!

thegamerswife said...

I was gel pen freak! I had a whole case of them that I took to school and took notes with! I still have a whole bunch that I never use now but just can't get rid of :-p

Ice Queen said...

I was the first one in my class to have the marble ink and it was the best decision I've ever made! You had to buy the black paper with it for note passing.

Do they still make them? If they do I'm going to go buy at least 20 and start writing some hardcore letters on black paper.

Jimmy James said...

Milky pen! All gel pens in general were fun to draw with. You could even draw on BLACK paper!

Melanie's Randomness said...

I still got mine in my desk at home. I'm addicted to different color inks and gel pens. I blame the 90's. =)

Carissajaded said...

Oh how I wish I had one of those pens that gradually changes color today. And I still have a gel pen set that writes on the black paper. Come to think of it... I think it's time to bring back the pencil box.

Jaime @ laviejaime said...

Ha, I loved these! And teachers would forbid the use of them on tests/papers because they couldn't read!

Freck said...

Gel pens - always a good purchase back in the day. My school planner went from blah to amazing with those little guys. Thank you gel pens.

Moonjava said...

I loved my gel pens, actually I probably still have them somewhere...hmmm I should find them and spice up my planner! ;)

Yankee Girl said...

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I actually use a gel pen at work. It's gold and it makes work just a tad more fun.

However, when I was in school I really enjoyed those pencils that you never had to sharpen. Remember those? When the lead got low you just took out the pencil tip, shoved it up the ass of the pencil and new lead popped out? Loved those.

Anonymous said...

I forgot about gel pens, I LOVED those! I'd get a stack of black paper and spend the afternoons making pictures and designs!

Randi Troxell said...

oh how i remember these babies like it were yesterday! i looooved these so much!

JUST ME said...

I LOVED Gel pens.

Except when you wanted to write a secret note and the thing would just pussy out on you and NOT WRITE for some reason.

Paigealicious! said...

Wuz up? Not much here. My friend and I had a "note"book that we passed back and forth to each other and it had black paper...she even bought me some pastel gel pens when she first handed me the notebook. I thought it was the coolest thing ever!


Faux Trixie said...

Dude, I still use the gel pens.

claire1011993 said...

Post Alex Mack! Post Alex Mack!

Scientific Housewife said...

My notes from middle school prove that my friends and I were obsessed with gel pens. I had an incident in class where one of my gel pens exploded all over my clothes and I had gel ink on them the rest of the day. I still loved them though.

Mandy said...

perhaps one of the most epic days of middle school was when they became available at the dollar store..... ohhhhh the excitement!

Abbie said...

I loved gel pens and I'd be lying if I said I didn't use them to grade my students papers! Hahaha!!

Question, have you ever done a post about those braclets you had to snap against your wrist in order to put them on? Please tell me you know what I'm talking about!! If you haven't done it already, you should do a post on them pronto!!

Heather Taylor said...

I still have the Gelly Roll gel pens! They're almost dry of ink but I love them so much I never had the heart to throw them away. Man, middle school used to be the place to be for school mirrors, fancy pencil cases, novelty erasers and folders and sparkly pencils. Great times.

Elle said...

Oh gel pens and marble ink, How I loved thee! The best notes to pass in class were those with the prettiest ink!

Anonymous said...

Ahh yes I certainly had a slew of these!

LWLH said...

Gels pens, teachers hated those! :) lol.

Shop N' Chomp said...

Love your blog name! I go nuts for gel pens ;)

Mini said...

Oh, I used to love me a good gel pen!

Annie said...

i love pens!! i still buy gel pens ;)
i used to have a HUGE collection in H.S.

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Jr. Williams said...

what is the best brand of gel pens?
Gel pen set

Djadai said...

I recommend you these pens, all colors that you might need are available. I didn't even know that some of these colors even existed.

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