Signs of frustration: Husband's obsession with ink pens drives wife, co-workers over the edge


These are all the pens I collected on my last cleaning spree.

The Hubs and I were having lunch together this week when I told him I couldn’t decide on a column topic. I rarely run out of things to say or stories to tell, but between school and dance and piano, and the endless washing of cloth face masks and water bottles, I just haven’t had time to gather my thoughts on the week.  


I asked The Hubs why he hadn’t done anything funny (or worth poking fun of) this week, either. I mean, I have already told y’all about his peanut butter and jelly sandwich compulsion and his obsession with “normal” hair shampoo. Looking up at me over his plate, he asked me not to write anything about him because the folks at work are still giving him a hard time about the picture I sent his controller back in February. 


Now, if you don’t know what a “controller” is, let me explain it to you. The controller is the chief financial strategist, the person that makes sure budgets are met and not blown. They control the expenditures in an office. If someone wants to buy a new desk, the expenditure has to go through the controller. If someone wants to get reimbursed for meals eaten on an out of town business trip, the payment has to be reviewed and approved by the controller. The controller is the literal “check” on the bank balance. It is a position that bears much responsibility, and the reason why most controllers take the job very, very seriously. 


The Hubs’ controller is so effective and revered at his office, coworkers have given her the fearsome nickname “P Money.” But in this case, I should say, “nom de plume” because P Money  also controls the office supplies. 


So, back in February, P Money sent me a picture of The Hubs holding two Pilot ink pens with the following message:


“Good morning. When these two pens show up at your house, would you please send him back with all the other pens he has carried home  We might not get a bonus this year if he keeps this up, ha ha ha.”


To which I replied with my own photo --  a plastic shoe box literally filled with ballpoint pens and highlighters I had removed from every table, drawer and suit pocket in the house during a cleaning spree. “I would like to tell you that I would,” I replied. “But this is my pile from two weeks ago.”


Could I send the box back to work with him the following day, she wondered? I apologized profusely, but unfortunately the pens had already been filed in the Round File I keep under the kitchen counter. 


“He’s killing me,” she said. I told her I knew exactly what she meant. 


We have ruined countless loads of laundry with pens missed, stained a leather chair when he sat down with a pen in his back pocket, and now my blasted dog Cleo has developed a fondness for chewing on them. Out, damned Spot, out! I do not want my couch or new living room rug ruined! So when I see a pen in my house, it goes straight to the trash. I have also asked the dry cleaners to stop returning the ones they find in his clothes, too.


I suggested that if there was a pen shortage at the office, she do what I do when I need a pen -- rifle though his car. I assured her there would probably be at least a dozen rolling around in there.


Apparently, P Money and the gang have the write stuff because now everyone is in on the pen jokes. Whenever folks come to his office needing his signature on something, they bring their own pens and then insist, loudly, on getting them back before he can cart them off.  


“You know, Melanie, this is all your fault. If you would stop hiding pens from me at home, I wouldn’t need to keep getting more. Everyone should be able to find a pen to take a note or sign something. I feel like I have spent half our marriage asking where things are. First you put them in my bedside drawer, then you moved them into a box in the closet, then you put some in the junk drawer. I can never find a pen -- or a phone charger for that matter -- anywhere! The next thing you know, you’ll be hiding things in the silverware drawer.” 


I shut that down quick. I told him this was my column, not his chance to write a poison pen letter, and he could forget about me making fun of myself. I confiscate and dispose, I do not hide. 


I wrote back to P Money, suggesting she take advantage of the upcoming new fiscal year and deduct a lump sum pen payment from his check each January. She liked the idea very much, and thought maybe she would send him a bill. 


I just hope she isn’t counting on him to write her a check!

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