By about the third day of eighth grade, I already knew I wanted to do everything possible to piss off my English teacher. In retrospect, it was relatively easy, starting with the fact that I was a better writer than she was. But that's not what this is about. This is about that whole fountain pen thing.
For some reason, I decided the most avant-garde thing I could do to tweak her nipples was to use green pen. I started with ballpoint; this was in the early days of roller-ball pens, in the late 80s, and it was only rarely my $3.25 minimum wage library job would allow me to purchase such abecedarian finery. (Even then I eschewed felt-tip pens as both too sloppy and too casual.) Incidentally, this was also right around the time of lapsang souchong, Howard Jones on vinyl, e. e. cummings-esque poems on my father's new electronic typewriter, and the infamous black felt bowler hat that was worn to the constant dismay of other students and barely-suppressed amusement of my beloved science teacher. (I wasn't good at science, mind you, I was just in the throes of adolescent crushdom.) Whenever possible, with baggy wide-wale cords, my father's ancient Harris tweed blazer with the sleeves rolled up, and anything resembling combat boots.
Then my mom gave me her old Esterbrook fountain pen, and the trouble started. For about five years, I wouldn't use anything but green fountain pens. As you can imagine, this was somewhat problematic, though I suspect it gave most college admissions offices a clearer picture of me than any essay. Also that year, I started keeping a consistent, if somewhat focusless, journal in those marble composition books. I used them for two reasons: the hardbacked writing surface was perfect no matter where I went, and my algebra teacher almost never suspected that I wasn't taking notes. Which just goes to show how much attention he was paying.
Twenty years later, I have a collection of close to fifty volumes, almost exclusively penned in varying shades of green ink, ranging from classic emerald (still my favourite, but increasingly hard to find since Shaeffer changed the formula a few years ago) to sticky Waterman bottle-green, to the occasional foray olive or verdant grass-green when I could still find them for my Diplomat. (or my Diplomat, for that matter; have I mentioned everything I own has been in storage for more than a year now?)
Somewhere in my sophomore year at NYU, I took a walk on the wild side and filled an entire journal in deep lilac, and there are more recently swaths of respectable English-schoolteacher blue, a few traces of brown, and--the summer I spent in Scotland--even a black gel rollerball. The chance of losing my beloved Shaeffer was too horrifying to risk it, never mind that they're utterly replaceable at $8.95.
Occasionally my journals will wander, too. My current one, though still the hard-backed composition style, is bright, cheery yellow, almost offensively so, with art-deco swirls. I've gone through riffs on the traditional marble-pattern in blue, red, violet, and (of course) green. I've even tried, without much consistent success, to keep a few other journals--mostly unlined--but I've found that it doesn't work unless I have a "regular" journal going at the same time, too. Also, I clearly recall the first time I actually used a paragraph. I was in college. Prior to that, I just wrote straight through. Compulsively.
I can't say that it successfully drove Miss Petro crazy, any more than constantly signing out to go to band practice or oboe lessons, but it certainly helped my status as class weirdo in my relatively small and entirely homogenous middle school, while everyone else was fluffing their big hair and drifting in and out of pinstripe jeans and fighting over which member of Duran Duran was the hottest.
My one regret is never having enough gumption to dye my hair green.