My infatuation with pens in general started at a very early age. I remember school shopping being more of a national holiday for me. My friend Justin and I used to drool over our favorite pens and write notes to each other every class period just so we could use them. I have quite a history with pens that developed over my years in school, which ultimately got me to where I am today with fountain pens.
One of the earliest pens that I can remember using was the Fiskars gel pen set. I remember vividly having this entire 48-pen set, and trading back and forth with Justin so we could write notes. I was always a fan of green, and both of us really loved orange. Another gel pen that we often used was the Uniball Signo Gelstick. They came in several different colors (again orange and green seemed to be the favorites). I always loved the gel grip on those pens.
Speaking of gel grip, our typing teacher in middle school (yes, we had one of those..but we used computers and not typewriters. I'm not that old!) always had a Pilot Dr. Grip pen. I'm pretty sure every one in the class attempted to swipe it at least once. The grip on that thing was like writing with a pillow. I never really enjoyed using ballpoint pens (or "cheap-pen-black" and "cheap-pen-blue" inks as Justin and I called them - I still get a good laugh out of that), but when I saw the green barrel, I had to have it.
Later on, we discovered the Pilot Precise P-500 and P-700 needle point gel rollerball pens. Justin and I called these "cloud pens" because they had what looked like clouds on the barrel. These are still one of my favorite pens to this day - sadly, I haven't seen them in stores in years. Thank goodness for Amazon! Similar to these, were the Pilot V5 and V7 needlepoint pens. They wrote very similarly to the P-500. Next was the Uniball Vision, which we ended up always switching the cap finials and trading amongst friends to have a completely random colored pen. The 0.5mm were dark grey and the 0.7mm were light grey, so we would mix and match parts and pieces until you couldn't tell what color or size pen you had until you wrote with it (it also made a great prank). Uniball then came out with the Vision Elite and the BLX ink series, which I use even today at work if I'm forced to write on crappy paper. The BLX ink series is perfect for the workplace - you get some variation from the traditional blue and black, but still have the professional look.
Finally before I get to my eventual point, there is the Pilot G2 gel rollerball pen. This is probably my favorite non-fountain pen go-to. I love the green version most, but all of them are really great colors. This gel pen puts down a consistent line, never dries up and always starts on the first go.
At some point in the early high school era, I discovered the Pilot Varsity fountain pen at one of the local office supply stores. This pretty much changed my view on pens. Writing with that pen required almost no pressure, and it put down a smooth, wet line on the paper. It came in a few different colors - black, blue and purple at the time. From that point, I was always looking for a fountain pen when I went pen shopping. I never had much luck, because at the time I don't think local pens stores really cared much about fountain pens because that community probably wan't a big money-maker for them.
Fortunately, one day I made my way into an Office Depot, and found what appeared to be a pretty no-name fountain pen. It took a standard international short cartridge, so to me, it was a "true" fountain pen when compared to the disposable Varsity which could not be refilled. I actually had to do a little research when I started writing this post, because in looking at the pen, you cannot find a single marking on it which tells the model. The cap just says "Yafa." Turns out this pen is called the Yafa Scenario Fountain Pen. It is a simple blue plastic barrel with a brushed aluminum cap. Looking back now, it's a pretty poor pen compared to the ones I use today, but at the time this was my holy grail pen. The package came with a matching ballpoint, and 4 or 5 standard international short cartridge refills. I pretty much knew nothing more about fountain pens than what I discovered on my own (I didn't know you had to flush the pen out before changing color refills *cringe*). But this pen was the gateway into a lifelong addiction to fountain pens.
I will do a full review on this pen soon, so keep an eye out for that.