Home > Uncategorized > An inquiry into the unexplained disappearance of pens

An inquiry into the unexplained disappearance of pens

As long as I can remember pens disappear. When I was gainfully employed it was less of a concern because, presumably, I left them behind at meetings or in labs or at any of the many places where I spent time during the day: a modern ballpoint Johnny Appleseed. My secretary, on the other hand, likely suspected me of trading them in the black market given the frequency with which I asked her to order a new shipment. There was a silver lining, though: by the time I needed a fresh batch I had found an even better pen to order.
Alas, the new style pens never failed to disappoint. Time and again I was duped by a freakishly good specimen I had stolen from someone but by the time I realized this, that one extraordinary pen was long gone and I was stuck with a whole bunch of inferior pens.
However, even since I retired a dozen years ago, I haven’t been attending meetings or visiting labs and our pens still disappear. We bought a gross last year and we are down to the last box of twelve. Strangely enough not all pens disappear. Those that don’t work remain. Even after throwing them away, they somehow reappear, usually when I have an urgent need for one.
Ruth suggested a black hole exists by the kitchen counter, somewhere near the telephone. I’ve been scientifically trained so I set out to investigate.
Black holes, as you know, exert such a strong gravitational pull that even light can’t escape. So of course, they can’t be seen. Their gravitational pull is so large that nearby stars are accelerated to tremendous speeds. That’s one way to detect them. Another is by their emissions. Only high energy radiation, like gamma rays, escapes them. (Whether gamma rays escape or are expelled is a matter of conjecture. I submit they are expelled because not even black holes want gamma rays.)
Those proven astrophysical approaches didn’t seem applicable to my research. Neither did the use of pens as bait. Placing one on the counter led to its disappearance; but we already knew that. It was only when I placed a special pair of socks in the washing machine and could find only one afterward that I realized how the black hole worked. It selected one sock and left the other alone following a similar mechanism to the one it uses in devouring only working pens. Our kitchen black hole with subsidiary holes in the laundry room and my closet is selective. Perhaps it is only a black hole in training, a sort of dark gray hole.
But something was missing. Where were the emissions? Shouldn’t there be something expelled? Something nasty? The answer came to me by accident. Literally.
I tripped on a wire hanger. Where do they come from? I get my laundry shirts boxed and yet every time I turn around I find a few more wire hangers. The clothes Ruth buys come with peculiarly useless plastic hangers. And yet we are awash in wire hangers. That’s when I saw the connection. Gamma rays are as undesirable to black holes as wire hangers are to humans, unless we are in need of a makeshift antenna.
Ruth doesn’t think much of my theory—she doesn’t believe I loaded the washing machine either—but I’m getting a pair of lead gloves to handle the damn hangers anyway.

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