Monday, February 2, 2004


One of the most lasting---if not commendable---skills with which college has endowed me is that of pen-twirling. In class, before campus was blanketed in wireless coverage (you kids have it so easy these days) what was there to entertain the masses but the art of pen-twirling? During my freshman year I learned from my Thai roommate, the man Wichakool, the over-the-thumb twirl, in which one's pen is spun over the back of the thumb, 360-degrees both forwards and backwards. Years later I augmented the one-shot twirls with the technique of having a backward spin immediately segue into a forward spin with no intermission to switch grips. Another type of twirl I learned, a quite simple variety widely practiced, is to hold the pen near its midsection, between the middle and ring fingers, and windmill it about in a quick, balanced way. The final of my pen-twirling skills is one that I saw performed early in my first semester, but whose practitioner refused to indulge my requests for a lesson. It is a variation of the simple twirl described above, but rather than keeping the pen always between the ring and middle fingers, it is skipped up as it rotates from the pinky and ring, to the ring and middle fingers in a smooth movement. Other than these three twirls I've not seen any in the wild, but if you, skillful reader, know another type of pen-twirl and share it with me, you will have my sincere gratitude as an artist of the twirl, generous and knowledgeable. Peace be unto pen-twirlers all over our fair earth.