The Game of Pencils

As I was showing my collection of pencils from the 1990s to a friend the other day, he reminded me of a game he used to play in middle school. I went to middle school four years later and halfway across the country from him, and I vaguely remember it, too.

It was called “pencils” (great name, right?), and involved two players. They took turns flicking their pencils at the other player, damaging the wooden barrel of the pencil on defense. After each hit, they’d switch roles and the defense pencil went on the offense. The pencil that broke first lost.

As a collector and user of fine graphite-based writing instruments, I now feel that this is just a bit of wanton destruction for the same of destruction—something middle-school-aged kids love, right? But then I got to thinking. Could this be a good test of the durability and strength of a pencil? Would, say, a glossy lacquered, fine incense cedar Palomino demolish, say, the cheap generic Office Depot pencil?

I sort of want to put this to the test. Stay tuned in the future for some wanton destruction of pencils.

A cursory Google search reveals the Tradition Mexican Pencil Game, pencil and paper games (which looks kind of fun, actually), and how to score baseball games with a pencil (which our California Cedar friends Chuck and Joey might like). But I can’t seem to find a reference for a game of pencils.

Meanwhile, do you remember this game? Any rules or subtleties I’m missing? Let me know what you think.

Yikes! pencils: Graphite-filled emblems of the 1990s

Like many bloggers in their late-twenties, I am proud to be a child of the 90s. I grew up on Nickelodeon, pump-up sneakers, beige Apple computers, Ecto-cooler Hi-C “juice”, and lots of bright, neon colors. And if, like me, you remember the 90s kid culture, you’ll probably remember this commercial from the Saturday morning cartoons:

That’s right. Yikes. I LOVED these pencils. It was a thrill for me every fall to go with my mom to K-Mart and buy school supplies, because she indulged me and let me get these colorful little sticks of fun. Just like the kid in the commercial, they were the opposite of boring. Everything about the design was crafted — from the contrasting (and often, conflicting) color scheme to the odd shapes, from the dyed wood to the bright rubber (and later, polymer) eraser.

And now, they have all but disappeared.

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