Friday, March 03, 2006

The Tale of Schwan Stabilo

Once upon a time, in a place far away, in a time long past when gasoline was less than a dollar a gallon and a burger could be had for as little as three quarters, there dwelt an artist of good repute, and he shall be called The Draw-er. Now, The Draw-er saw the world in shades of grey and spent his days toiling honestly and earnestly to hone his talent; his talent - to make drawings of fine detail. He worked long hours in his studio and spent much time outdoors, gathering information and inspiration to translate into his works of art. And in the early years of his career, he gathered beside him, pencils of great worth. Some even said his pencils held magical powers, powers to fool the eye and amaze the spirit. But The Draw-er simply laughed at such sport, his pencils were not magical nor did they posess mystical powers, he thought.

As the years passed though, The Draw-er became aware that perhaps, just perhaps, several of his meek and simple pencils did things that even he found astounding. They could produce such soft and even shades of grey, such mellow tones, that The Draw-er began to think that maybe the 'others' had been correct and that these particular pencils could indeed work magic! And it came to pass, that after many years of work and hard use of these delicate insturments of encased graphite, The Draw-er began to notice that the wear of years of use had begun to take their toll and the meek and simple, scarlet colored pencils were worn, tired, their hard edges softened by years of being caressed and held in warm hands. Now these two pencils had been with The Draw-er from almost the beginning of his career, he could no longer even remember the circumstances of their acquisition. And he was amazed that after so many years and so many drawings and so much use, these two simple pencils had remained like close friends. Though now short and appearing forlorn, these two pencils were regarded with such reverence and appreciation, that The Draw-er suddenly realized they would someday soon, need to be replaced. He was sure he had purchased twins to these scarlet harbingers of soft grey and searched his studio to find them. But, with sad and sullen heart, The Draw-er realized that he did not own any replacements for these two old friends.

And so, The Draw-er sat with broken heart, wondering what he might do, wondering how he could continue his work when he had no means of duplicating the softness and eveness of tone that these two wonderous pencils could produce. He wondered if he would ever find such comfort with any other pencils!

His heart heavy with saddness, there came suddenly a glimmer of hope. The Draw-er thought, 'I shall go on a quest to find kin of these old friends.' There must be, he pondered, the means to find the place of birth of these red wonders and he would seek out the castle or cave where such items could be purchased. But looking closely at his old friends, it was hard to detect their place of birth, let alone a name or indication of from whence they came. He finally determined that they did indeed come from the Kingdom of Schwan Stabilo. But where to begin?

As time passed, and The Draw-er continued to work and make use of his two dear and wonderful scarlet friends, he surmised that maybe the best way to seek out this Kingdom of old was to inquire of the wonderful Wizard, The Great and Good Google, where he might begin his quest. So off to the land of Google he went, armed with the confidence that if anyone could tell him where to find the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Schwan Stabilo, it would be The Great and Good Google. The artist came to the Wizard and asked, simple and clear, 'Where might I find, oh Great and Good Google, those that inhabit the Kingdom of Schwan Stabilo?' The Great and Good Google, hissed and sputtered and spit out a list of places he thought for sure, would indeed offer help to this artist in need.

But, The Draw-er was perplexed. The list, upon close inspection, showed little of kindred to Schwan Stabilo. There was the Kingdom of Faber Castell, well known to The Draw-er, as he already owned several of their pencils, particular numbers of which were quite useful for certain areas of his work but not for the purposes that his old and dear scarlet friends were used for. And there was also the land of Berol with its Turquoise beauties, so sharp and fine. But they too were well known to The Draw-er for their particular uses, but not that of his old and dear scarlet friends.

The artist now began to worry that his quest would be denied and he would find no place that held the secret to where he might find the likes of Schwan Stabilo. His skin grew cold, his fingers trembled at the thought that someday soon, he would have to bid his old and dear scarlet friends farewell when they were too old and too tired and too small of spirit to continue their work.

And once again, The Draw-er asked of The Great and Good Google, 'Where might I find the dwelling of Schwan Stabilo? Please tell me!' And The Great and Good Google sputtered and blinked and spat out yet another list. This time the list was smaller and the artist's heart sank as he knew it just would not contain the information that he so desired to know. Had the Kingdom of Schwan Stabilo disappeared? Had this Kingdom foundered and failed in the time of great reckoning when other Kingdoms of wealth and power had faltered and fallen on bad times? But then the artist saw the name that he had so hoped to see, that of the Kingdom of Schwan. Could this be the same? Could this be the reincarnation of the fallen Stabilo?

So off the artist went, following the yellow brick path laid out ahead of him and directing him toward the Kingdom of Schwan. With hopes high and heart full of tempered joy, he began to sift through the mire of vines and branches and darkness that seemed to block his way to the truth. And then, there on the horizon, The Draw-er saw it - The Kingdom of Schwan laying just over the hilltop in a land far away and beckoning him forward. As the artist continued to search and dig deeper into the forest of strange objects he realized that this forest was not that strange after all. It was nothing more than stand after stand of colorful wood, each with its own diverse and unique tone, but nothing in grey. There were other objects in the forest too, colorful and bright and encompassing many diverse shapes and sizes, but still, nothing like his old and dear scarlet friends.

It was becoming rapidly more aware to the artist that his quest was not going to end in a happy way. It appeared indeed, to be the worst possible outcome as The Draw-er resigned himself to the fact that there no longer was a means of finding pencils so marvelous and so rare and so soft and subtle, as his old and dear scarlet friends. A tear fell from his face as he reluctantly left the land of Google and the Great and Good Wizard who had tried so hard to answer his question, to make good on his quest.

But then, as if by magic, on his journey back to his studio and place of work, he saw . . . did he really see it? . . . a glint of light which struck upon a scarlet color so rich and so bright and so tempting . . . could it be true? . . . was there really a shaft of red beaming in the late afternoon sunlight that streamed through his window? Ah yes, upon reaching the place The Draw-er found, much to his amazement and surprise . . . amid the mass and tangle of pencils he had gathered over the years, the blues and greens and yellows of their skins . . . three pencils of scarlet, so rich and so rare and so singular in their being that he nearly swooned with joy! He reached out and touched them, touched them with hope and longing and desire and . . . fear! As he looked closer at the three temptresses, he saw that they were indeed of that Kingdom long gone, that Kingdom of Schwan Stabilo and he rejoiced that perhaps his quest would not be for naught. He read with eager happiness the numbers on their shiny sides. No, they were not the long used, much loved numbers of the dear old scarlet friends (2H and 4H) but still, in the best of all possible worlds, they held their heads high and proclaimed their numbers as 8H and 9H.

'H' it be, yelled the artist! And with that, he plunked himself down in his well worn and well suited comfortable seat at his drawing board, the drawing board that he had worked at for all these many years, first as a novice pencil man and later as a professional artist who stirved to produce works that others might appreciate. His quest had not been fully realized, but as his thoughts wondered to the work at hand, it was certain that in years to come, these new found friends, these numbered 8 and 9, with their soft and subtle qualities of perfect graphite, could indeed take the place of his dear and old scarlet friends and continue to offer the 'magic' that he had so become accustomed to.


yvonne said...

There's a box of red Schwan Stabilo pencils selling on E-Bay. Don't know if they are the same as yours.

cpbvk said...

I'm pretty sure that the phrase "Red Schwan Stabilo" refers to a bicycle.