It was two years ago that I came clean about one of my many quirks. On National Ballpoint Pen Day, I admitted to my 20-year habit of carrying pens in my pocket.

I explained that not only did hauling the pens around prove useful to me, it also proved useful to others. I became addicted to the brief heroic status I would receive when someone was in desperate need of a pen and I could swoop in and provide them a writing utensil during their time of need.

Up until last week I still carried pens in my pocket. But things have changed. You see, shortly after I wrote the Thursday Rundown that mentioned my pen habit, I made an upgrade. At work they had these fancy ballpoint pens from Office Depot. They were night and day compared to the branded cheap ballpoint pens I would pick up at a restaurant or hotel and slightly better (okay…much better) quality than my personal Don’t Blink pens that proved to be such a sensational hit. These Office Depot pens wrote so effortlessly and legibly that I started buying them myself.

It was a big deal when I got my branded Don’t Blink pens.

But about a year ago I had my first incident. While wearing a new pair of khakis, I looked down at my pants and gasped in horror when I noticed the left pant leg was covered with a dark substance. It took me a moment to realize the mess was from one of my Office Depot pens that exploded. I removed the pen, covering my hands with ink in the process. My keys were also covered in ink as they share a pocket with my pens. Despite Sid’s best efforts with stain remover and our washer, the pants were beyond ruined.

These are the Office Depot ballpoint pens that I have used for the past 18 months or so.

You think I would learn, right? Sadly, it has taken three other pairs of ink-drenched pants to get to this present moment where I am not carrying pens in my pocket. In my opinion, this discontinuation of a tradition is even more scandalous than when I stopped eating peanut butter sandwiches on a daily basis. But I simply can’t continue to ruin pants, right?

This is a pair of jeans that survived a less extreme explosion. Nonetheless, it still has a permanent stain.

My plan is not to have this current hiatus last forever. I needed to take a break and assess things. What I came to grips with was that the pens exploding in my pocket was not random. The incidents occurred when I would do a physical activity that I usually wouldn’t do in pants…like this past Saturday at our retreat when we went on a short hike. Sure enough, that stroll triggered an explosion. Once I start carrying again, I need to be much more cognizant of removing any pens if I do even the slightest of physical activities. I have also come to the conclusion that I need to revert to carrying just the basic ballpoint pens instead of the fancy utensils I have grown so fond of.

Regardless of what it looks like on the exterior, most of my pants are covered in dry ink in the left pocket.

If you see me in the near future, please don’t laugh at the noticeable ink stains on the exterior of my left pocket that many of my pants now sport. Are the pant stains worth my moments of heroism when I bust out a pen for someone who really needs it? Nah, I don’t think so. Don’t Blink.

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