Recently, I dined with friends at an upscale restaurant where the waiters wore bow ties. I ordered a Greek salad. Simple enough. Or, so I thought. But the waiter wasn’t satisfied. What kind of salad dressing did I require: “Ranch? Thousand?, French? Green Goddess? Blue Cheese, Ginger….” You get my drift. Feeling waterboarded with so much choice, I snatched for a lifeline. “Vinaigrette!”
If I thought I had settled the matter, I was wrong. “Balsamic or red wine?”
Everyone’s met an intimidating waiter, so I won’t go on, except to say, by the time he left, I was trembling at the thought of ordering bread.
Life is already fraught with too many questions. Did the Russians hack our election, for example? Did North Korea rid itself of a nuclear plant? Choosing salad dressing is the least of our worries. That decision, at least, should be simple. Along the same line, not long ago, I wrote about the fountain pen. They drifted out of favor with the advent of ball points. What a blessing. Gone was the need to think about barrel size, fat or slim, or types of nibs.
Sadly, circumstances have rapidly changed. A person can spend a half-hour scrabbling at the ball point pen counter choosing among styles — those with caps or push buttons, soft tips, fabric tips or roller balls, some with fat strokes, others with thin — before deciding on ink color.
Having lost their simplicity, some consumers have turned their backs on ball points and returned to fountain pens. The risk of spilled ink remains, but the array of colors is too tempting to ignore. Needless to say, entrepreneurs have taken note of this trend in taste. Today, not only is there lilac for love letters and purple for prose, but inks can provide a sheen or shimmer to enhance the message.
Sheen gives off a tint that varies from its main color. Not visible when wet, sheens crystalize into different shade when dry — red, green, blue. Shimmers, on the other hand, go for the audacious, “like a playful marker all grown up.” (“Sincerely,” by Daniel Taub, Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct. 29, 2018, pg. 74.)
The new inks cost more than they did in the past. Be prepared to pay $14 to $36 for a small bottle Still, if love is in the air, price shouldn’t matter. Better buy now, by the way. The market for fountain pens keeps growing, over 3% in the last year. (Ibid, pg. 14.) So, as night follows day, look for the price of ink to rise.
In this increasingly complex world, the dizzying choices we must make continue to grow exponentially. I have only one word of advice to offer. Never mistake your ink for your salad dressing.