4 Color Pens

I have news for you on the Bic 4 Color Pen front.

I’m in France right now, and let me tell you something: for a guy who loves Bic 4 Color Pens, I’m in the right place. Bic is a French company, and believe it or not, the Bic 4 Color Pen is still to this day made right here in France, like a fine French wine. You know the pen I’m talking about:

That is not my hand. First of all I’m a man, and that looks like a woman’s hand. Second of all I wear a watch on my right hand. So that’s not me. This is just a picture I found on the internet in order to remind you of what the Bic 4 Color Pen looks like. Also I don’t get manicures, and it looks like those fingernails have been manicured. It’s not my hand. Also, the hand looks small.

About a year and a half ago I took a trip to France. I avoided all of the boring tourist traps, like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but I did give myself the opportunity to visit a large French discount store called Leclerc. Leclerc is like a Carrefour, or a Walmart. Anyway when I was in there walking up and down the aisles, I caught a glimpse of a brand new model of the old school Bic 4 Color Pen.

This new model was one I had never seen before. It was astonishingly classy and beautiful.

This new Bic 4 Color Pen combined the functionality and performance of the Bic Medium Point Blue Barrel 4 Color Pen, which many people all over the world remember using when they were children, with the grace and elegance of a Montblanc. It was all black, and it was called, get this, “The Pro”. Here is how it looked, hanging there on display:

I totally fell in love with this elegant black pen the second I saw it.

You have to understand that for decades, I’d been using the standard, old school Bic Blue Barrel Medium Point 4 Color Pen. Seeing my favorite Bic 4 Color Pen in black- in a shiny, classy black, like a black pearl- was a revelation and a shock.

We’ve all seen the Orange Barrel Fine Point 4 Color Pen before, but unfortunately, that Orange Barrel Fine Point 4 Color Pen totally sucks. The ink gets very light, very quickly, and it upsets me so much that I wrote two separate letters to Bic’s Customer Service. In my letters I complained about how badly those shitty Orange Barrel pens perform. Fine, they ignored my first letter, but my second letter, which was ferocious, brought good results.

Anyway more recently we’ve also seen fluorescent colored and pastel versions of the Bic 4 Color Pen, but let’s be honest, those are for girls. What all this means is that since the 1990’s, I’ve been using the Bic Blue Barrel Medium Point 4 Color Pen nonstop, because it’s amazing, but the truth is, I’ve been using it in spite of its childish, cheap, school boy appearance. That’s why suddenly seeing this new black model, “The Pro”, was so exciting to me.

I once received, as a gift, a SILVER barrel Bic 4 Color Pen- the woman who gave it to me knew how much I loved the Blue Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen. Before telling you my own verdict on the Silver Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen let me first show it to you; this way you can formulate your own views on it, without being prejudiced by my own:

The Silver Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen- a step in the right direction.

OK look, that’s a pretty nice looking pen, but two comments. First of all, although the barrel looks metallic, it’s actually made of plastic. Second, it still has that white part, the white part on the top of the pen, the area where you have the color selection buttons. This white top immediately makes people around you think- “hey that’s a nice looking pen… oh, wait a second, that’s just one of those children’s pens I used to use years ago, the Bic pen with the 4 colors!”

Let’s put it this way. In the professional world, I would say that the Silver Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen pictured above was a cut above the standard, old school, Blue Barrel 4 Color Pen. But Bic hadn’t yet taken the final bold step of creating a classy version in all BLACK.

What scared me when I was standing there in that French department store, Leclerc, was the following. What if this Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen was just a temporary promotional item? What if Bic had produced a certain number of them, but was not planning on making it a permanent part of the Bic 4 Color Pen line? I went home and did some research. My research led me to several exciting discoveries.

First of all, I found out that I could buy the Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen in bulk- that is, a dozen at a time:

Above, a dozen of the awesome Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen, also known as the “Bic Pro.”

The question now was price. Was Bic going to take me to the cleaners on the Bic Pro? It is a beautiful pen, but how much of a premium are they going to charge me for that elegant beauty, when compared with the standard Bic Blue Barrel 4 Color Pen I’d been using?

In case you didn’t know, the Bic Blue Barrel 4 Color Pen is not exactly cheap. In the USA, you generally pay several dollars per pen.

More than four bucks for a single Bic 4 Color Pen, in the United States of America! It’s not a cheap pen!

However, since I was in France when all of this was happening, and since France is where these Bic 4 Color Pens are actually made, I decided to visit the French Amazon website. Guess what- on the French Amazon website, I got an absolutely awesome deal on a full dozen of the Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen, The Pro. Take a look:

Hell yeah, I got a full dozen of the Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen for only 18.68 Euros, tax included, free shipping. That comes out to about 1.55 Euros per pen.

I hope you are reading the captions for each of the photos above. It’s important that you read the captions.

By buying a dozen I was paying only 1.55 Euros for an absolutely beautiful and high performing pen, which I really really loved. I love this black pen. Not only do I love this pen, but I am astonished that something so wonderful which brings me so much happiness and usefulness can cost me so little.

Let’s think hypothetically for a second here. If I didn’t have a pecker, and if in place of a pecker I instead had a Bic 4 Color Pen attached to my body where my pecker should be, then this is how my 4 Color Pecker Pen would react to all of this excitement (in time lapse photography):

What the illustration above is supposed to communicate is that I was excited.

Let me explain exactly why I was so excited. First of all, 18.68 Euros per dozen, i.e. 1.55 Euros per pen, is an incredibly good deal for such an amazing, perfect, classy product. But second of all, I was getting a much better deal than I would be getting if I was in the US of A. American consumers are taking it in the ass with these Bic 4 Color Pens. Take a look at this, which comes from Amazon’s website in America:

That offer above on America’s Amazon website makes a fool of the American consumer. $54.61, which does NOT include tax, plus shipping of $9.99. You’re paying over 65 bucks per dozen, which comes out to more than $5.40 for each stupid looking Blue Barrel Pen, which will hold you back professionally, because it looks childish, and not professional and classy, like the Black Barrel 4 Color Pen, The Pro.

Anyway, now you can see why I was so excited about the incredible deal I got on a dozen of the Black Barrels. And I’m not the only one who’s excited- French people are excited too. Amazon is great for reading customer comments and feedback on products and French Amazonians are beginning to leave comments too, on the French Amazon website. Here’s what Ms. Dionot Sandrine wrote about her Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen:

“Sobre; pratique pour un stylo utilisé intensivement.”

Roughly speaking, that translates to:
“Sober; practical for a pen which is used intensively.”

I fully agree; the Black Barrel, as far as pens go, is a sober writing instrument. Its elegance is understated. And while the pen is highly fashionable and elegant, it’s also totally practical, at the exact same time.

Another comment from a French Amazonian: Ms. Muriel Pus, who said that:

“J’adore les stylos de la marque BIC et les stylos 4 couleurs. C’est plus pratique. Ce stylo a un beau design.”

That translates to:
“I adore the Bic brand of pens, and pens with 4 colors; they’re practical. This pen has a beautiful design.”

Again, I fully agree with these French people. These Black Barrels are really something else.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, I made another important discovery- again, on the Amazon website in France. You know how when you go to the bank, they always have a pen attached to a metal chain, so that the lowlife bank customers can’t walk away with all of the bank’s pens? Well I’ve always wanted one of those metal chain contraptions, to use on my own desk at home, and at work. However, when you compare the Bic 4 Color Pen to other pens, the Bic 4 Color Pen happens to be a relatively thick pen; those pen holders with the chain attached usually accommodate normal, thin pens. In other words, the Bic 4 Color Pen, regardless of what color it might be- Blue Barrel, the lousy Orange Barrel, Silver Barrel, or BLACK BARREL- won’t fit into the base. The Bic 4 Color Pen is just too thick to fit in the hole. Now however, out of the blue, I see that Bic has started manufacturing that metal chain contraption, but this time, with specifications that match the dimensions of the Bic 4 Color Pen! Here’s what I’m talking about:

When I saw this Black Barrel Counter Pen set, I almost freaked out.

In that picture above you can see the Bic Counter Pen set, with the Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen standing proudly and boldly inside. I knew I needed to get this thing, like a.s.a.p. Once again I was happy, because this pen is so awesome- and this base and metal chain would prevent the lowlives and losers in my life from stealing my shit- but also, I was happy because I saw that yet again, I could get an amazing deal on the French Amazon website. Look:

On France’s Amazon website, the Counter Pen Set costs 7.78 Euros, with tax included, and free shipping!

Less than 8 Euros to have the Bic Counter Pen Set in my hands, tax and shipping included. Once again, out of curiosity, I decided to check out Amazon’s website in America.

Oh wow, in America you get free shipping- but instead of the US dollar equivalent of 8 Euros, you instead have to pay almost 24 US dollars, plus tax!!! A total and complete rip off.

I really don’t understand why Americans have to take it in the ass like this. It’s totally unfair. If it weren’t for America, French people wouldn’t be manufacturing Bic pens at all- instead they’d be manufacturing Schneider pens, and Staedtler pens, and Herlitz pens and Wörther pens. Do you understand what I mean? What I mean is they’d all be a bunch of goddamn slaves, working for the Germans. That’s what I mean. And yet the Americans are paying fortunes for these Bic pens from France. Very sad!

Anyway since I was in France, I stayed away from the American Amazon website, and instead got my stuff on the French Amazon website. I went ahead and ordered both- a dozen of the Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pens (The Pro), and a Bic Counter Pen Set. An incredible deal for wonderful high quality products.

Then I saw something that kind of shocked me. On the French Amazon website, a French person had totally savaged the Counter Pen Set. What the hell was this all about?

What was this French person, Gilbert Damiano, going on about? Why only 2 stars?

As you can see above, this French Amazonian, Gilbert, screwed Bic over by giving the Counter Pen Set only 2 stars out of 5. Giving 2 stars out of 5 is like giving someone a 40% on their final exam. That’s a failing grade man. The person who got that failing grade wouldn’t be allowed to graduate and move on with his life, and that’s pretty vicious, because maybe there was stuff that the guy really wanted to do when he graduated. So anyway what was this Monsieur Gilbert Damiano so unhappy about? Gilbert wrote:

“Pourquoi dire stylo 4 couleurs, alors qu’il n’y a qu’une seule couleur (bleue) et que même les 4 poussoirs sont bleus.”

That translates to: “Why say that the pen has 4 colors when there’s only one single color, blue, and when even the ink selection buttons on the pen are all blue.”

Gilbert was angry. I suddenly figured out what the problem was. Can you see what was happening here? Here is a close up view of the Black Barrel pen that comes inside the Counter Pen Set:

All the buttons are blue, and all 4 ink cartridges in the pen are blue, and the only color the pen can write in is blue!

Apparently, Bic made an assumption- that people or institutions that want this Counter Pen Set would only be using a traditional color to write with- a traditional color, like blue, or black. So instead of including a pen which has 4 different ink colors, they decided to include a pen that only writes in one color- blue. I guess if you wanted to use this Bic Counter Pen Set in a bank, the bank would only really need blue ink- right? The bank wouldn’t necessarily need to give the bank customer the choice of signing a document or endorsing a check in red ink, or in green ink, right? So blue, and only blue, would make sense. And by having 4 blue ink cartridges, that Bic Counter Pen Set would theoretically be maintenance free for 4 times longer than the typical counter pen set. A normal counter pen set comes with a pen that only has one single ink cartridge, not 4 separate ink cartridges. Comparing a normal counter pen set, and the Bic Counter Pen Set, is like comparing a car that has the usual one gas tank, to a car that has 4 separate full size gas tanks. Goddamn it, that 4 gas tank car would be able to drive a very long way before it would need to look for a gas station and get more gas. In fact the driver would have to stop by the side of the road to pee or to pooh long before the 4 gas tanks were empty.

I’m not a dumb guy. I took stock of the situation and made a quick decision, which I am pleased to share with you. Remember, I got myself a full dozen of the Black Barrels, for the super low price which I found on the Amazon website in France. And I got myself a Bic Counter Pen Set, which included a Black Barrel pen- but it was a Black Barrel pen which only wrote in one single color, blue, and which has 4 full capacity blue ink cartridges. So what I did was this. First, I carefully unhooked the all-blue-ink pen which was originally attached to the chain on the Bic Counter Pen Set; second, I opened up the box of 12 Bic Black Barrel 4 Color Pens, and hooked one of those new Black Barrel 4 Color Pens onto the Counter Pen Set’s metal chain. Here is a photo I took of the final results:

On the left, the Counter Pen Set; in the middle, the all-blue-ink pen that came with the set, and which was originally attached to the chain, but which I unhooked; on the right, the empty box which the Counter Set came in. I have kept the box, because I love this thing so much.

If you look closely at the photo up above, you can see that I have successfully replaced the all-blue-ink pen which came in the Counter Pen Set, with a normal, Black Barrel 4 Color Pen, which has all four colors- blue, black, red and green. That was the final solution, and I have to say it’s been a total success.

I have finally reached a point in my life where I feel really contented and happy. My happiness is of course not coming from my new box of Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pens (The Pro), or from my Bic Counter Pen Set. However, that happiness which I have allows me to see how the people who are in my life right now are really wonderful, and special. And my happiness also allows me to fully appreciate outstanding and affordable products, like the Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen, The Pro, which functions well, looks great, and comes at a super reasonable price- at least in France. The people in my life, and the Black Barrel Bic 4 Color Pen in my hand- whether or not there’s a chain attached to the Bic 4 Color Pen- leave me wanting for nothing. And it reminds me of a quotation I saw a couple of days ago somewhere:

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Socrates said that. Also:

“Everything that happens, happens as it should- and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.”

That’s from Marcus Aurelius, a man who almost 2,000 years ago was the Emperor of the Roman Empire.

I am contented with who I have, and with what I have. I’m with a wonderful, special woman- and I’m telling you, these pens are awesome.

What Marcus Aurelius wrote- that everything that happens, happens as it should- I can see how if I believed that, I would feel more peaceful and relaxed in my life. However, it seems to me that in order to believe that that statement is true, you have to have some kind of underlying faith, perhaps a kind of religious faith. I don’t really have that kind of faith yet, and I definitely wasn’t raised with that kind of faith, or any faith, which makes it harder to develop faith later on in life. But with time, I hope to develop faith.

Thank you for visiting the Baby Butt Smooth website. Please leave a comment, if you have a moment.

3 replies
  1. Dean
    Dean says:

    Phil,

    A wonderful piece my friend, and your passion for the Bic biro (albeit in almost exalted form) is indeed infectious. I will scour the shops to see if the black beauty has travelled thus far. I will interrogate local shop owners with such questions as “Où sont les stylos 4 couleurs Bic, le Pro!”

    The desk set conversion is indeed genius and you can impart the simple steps perhaps in video guide form to Gilbert to put him firmly in his place.

    In a world where the typed & printed word is fast replacing the hand written le Bic is a splash in an otherwise disappearing oasis.

    ‘Vive le France, vive le Bic’.

    best wishes
    Dean

    Reply

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