I was raised to believe in the Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil. And, although I am older now, and although I have a desktop and a laptop with a stylus, and an Ipad and an Iphone, I still believe in the Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil. All else are altars to the pagan gods of technological modernity. Heresy.

This belief is well grounded in the miracle of erasure, in fleeting flights of scribble fancy and in the almighty power of the doodle to seduce, distract and mollify, to sedate. Nor should I neglect to mention the unequaled utility for completing the NYT Sunday Crossword Puzzle. Gray graphite for the Gray Lady.

I didn’t always hold this belief. At an early age, I had faith in crayons. Even today, I still dabble in the sacred Crayola. Where else in the holy scribble scripture can one find Banana Berry Blitz, Ravenous Purple, Flower Power Pink, Atomic Tangerine or Lift-off Lime? Go ahead, peruse Google paint apps, if you are a doubter, an apostate. No nevermind, my faith has grown beyond the Cerulean gods of Ugly Duckling Gray and Gold Bunny Gold.

Admittedly, this faith in the Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil is not sourced from some ancient or biblical lore, although it does have a creation myth, as one might expect. 

Long ago, at the junction of two waterways that the first people called tekontarĂł:ken, under the wary and watchful eye of the Mount of Defiance, graphite was stumbled upon, and the sky opened, and the stumbler said, “Eureka!” 

And, behold, the graphite marked remarkably well. Then came the prophets Dixon et al, and the graphite was clothed in “real wood” of Eastern Red Cedar, painted Chinese yellow to signify its royalty, and declared from the steeples to be the “Best of Its Kind.” 

A relatively short time later in religious time, although a bunch of decades to the masses, the pencil supplanted the quill pen as the preferred instrument in the classroom, and the Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil became the dominant faith of learned Americans. 

And, of patriotic Americans, too. For lo, graphite was stumbled upon in a place of great battles during the American Revolutionary War, and heroes were made there, and so the packaging for the Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil besaints the great Revolutionary War hero, Ethan Allen.

Rituals? Of course! What is a belief without rituals? The practitioner of the Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil performs an initial rite of Sharpening that brings the dull, untooled, flat end of the newly unpackaged instrument to a delicate point suitable for most purposes such as scribbling or doodling, or filling in small crossword puzzle squares. This ritual is repeated until stubification and requiem. 

And there is more, for the obscure mysteries of mathematics and geometry are the true missions of the well sharpened Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil. They are the whys and wherefores of my proselytizing, the cause celebre. Well, them and doodling, which is a form of geometry. 

As to these last esoteric functionalities, and as to the crossword puzzle, too, the eraser head realizes the irreducible duality of the Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil. The eraser head is an integrand of the Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil’s essence and it too, is the Best of Its Kind. This metaphysical quality of duality is quintessential to my belief.

So, there you have it. This is what I was raised to believe. These are the doctrines of my faith. In the Ticonderoga HB No. 2 (soft) Graphite Pencil I trust. The Best of Its Kind. Amen.

9 thoughts on “HB No. 2 by Edward Pontacoloni

  1. There is nothing to match a Ticonderoga HB #2 soft graphite pencil. As an artist, I’ve tried mechanical pencils, but even with soft lead, they do not measure up. However, I have to admit, I do my crosswords in pen. Pure ego on my part. And yes, I have a box of 96 Crayola crayons in a place of prominence within my art supplies. In case my inner child needs to appear. Sometimes I just look at them, reveling in their kaleidoscope of colors. Great story.

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