My ode to Dr. Grip, or ‘what I have in common with the worst spy in U.S. history’


In 2007, the movie “Breach” told the story of the greatest U.S. security breach of all time. This was a screenplay about Robert Hanssen, an agent tagged as “the worst spy in history” who was ultimately convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union.

While this movie tells a real life story that changed U.S. history, the only detail I actually remember – other than the fact that Ryan Phillippe has yet to look bad in any movie in my cinematic viewing history – was my shared affinity with Hanssen for something quite small, yet mighty. His obsessive compulsive nature was typically highlighted by the frequent clicking of his favorite crutch… a pen.

As my then-boyfriend and current husband, Hunter, and I watched the film, Hanssen says to Phillippe’s character during an office scene “Best pens in the world!  I never write with anything else.”

Just as Hanssen said the words “best pens” before the shot cut over to reveal actual writing instrument of choice, I leaned over to Hunter to point out that whatever pen they were going to show was, in fact, NOT the best pen in the world… because the best pen in the world was the Dr. Gr-

Holy crap. It WAS the Dr. Grip!


Somewhere in Hollywood there was a movie props master who thought as highly as I did of the pen for which I never hesitate to shell out $10.

Just like the the man with an affinity for espionage stated, I too avoid writing with other pens when possible. And as long as they make these bad boys, I will buy them… yes, even at $10 a pop.

My sister, whose job ironically is in sales for the world’s most luxurious brand of pens… excuse me, writing instruments, would die to know my preference for something as cheap as $10. She’s used to ink vessels embedded with diamonds or encrusted with fairy dust and unicorn tears for mere shekels of $2,000 and up.

Those prices make the times when I lose my $10 pen seem easier to bear.

Unfortunately, spending my days moving from meeting to meeting to meeting inevitably results in a lost pen more frequently than I would like. And since I would never ask my company to buy such expensive office supplies, I personally fund that habit – even as the losses add up.

I finally discovered one February as I struggled to come up with what I wanted for Valentine’s Day, that it wasn’t entirely ridiculous to ask my husband, then-fiance, for something as simple as pens. What might be ridiculous would be buying pens that expensive frequently without an excuse like a gift-obsessed holiday, quite frankly.

And while I do love flowers, I have never been the type of girl that expects jewelry or something fancy from my Valentine each year.

Just pens.

The first year he felt like I was leading him into a big trap… and if I opened a gift that actually did, in fact, contain just pens, my “angry female” claws would come out.

So, after reassuring him over ten times, he finally took the risk.

Once he did, it made his life so much easier. With just ten pens, I can make it through yet another 12 months of note-taking bliss and it’s as if I get to open ten gifts throughout the year instead of just one. As I move on to the last of my inventory each year, it’s timed perfectly as the stores begin stocking their red and pink holiday decor. 

After almost three years of pen-to-paper joy, it has become evident this will be the perfect tradition for many years to come.

My husband has it easy comparatively, to be sure. Even though I can guarantee I make up for it by being difficult in other areas… maybe even “many” other areas. 😉 

Yet, for this one holiday each year, my dorky tendencies finally pay off. To some, it may seem like a silly request on my part or not considered “romantic” by standard definitions, but I couldn’t be happier or feel more loved each February 14th.

Everybody wins. Most notably, the parent-company of what is claimed to be the best pen in the world.

Want to try out the over-priced writing utensil yourself? Enjoy.


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