Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bleu, Blanc, BIC: in praise of the "quatre couleurs"

I was grading papers and—oh how easy it is to get distracted—I realized that the inventor of the Bic four-color pen (aka quatre couleurs in French grade school parlance) must have been a nail biting, eraser-chewing, pen cap-eating child. That glorious little bite-sized finial that crowns the pen-of-many-colors is perfectly engineered for the orally fixated. As one who routinely destroys the tops of lesser pens, I marvel at how perfectly the teeth fit on top of this wonder, fearless of the ponderous bite or stressful gnaw.

The pen proudly declares MADE IN FRANCE. And on its side, the blue, white, and red form a tricolor flag. Now that more and more public places in France have adopted non-smoking policies, maybe more people should carry around the nerdy four-color pen. But chewer beware! Release the spring-loaded color changers onto your lip, and your reverie is gone in a burst of pain (not unlike falling asleep in a French grade school).