The Plot: OK, I was going to promise that this was the last time I would call an episode unforgettable or classic for at least the next two weeks, but I looked ahead and saw that the Library episode is just two away. So you’ll just have to live with my hyperbole.
The Pen introduces us to one of the greatest show characters ever, Jack Klompus. In this episode, Jerry and Elaine go to Florida to visit Jerry's parents for the weekend and plan on going scuba diving. Morty, Jerry's father, is also being honored at a ceremony the next night. Jack Klompus comes over to write Morty a check for a previous night's dinner and Jerry notices Jack's pen. When Jerry asks about it, Jack tells him that it can write upside down and that astronauts use it in space. After Jerry shows great interest in the pen, Jack offers to give it to him, repeating over and over “take the pen”. Jerry refuses his offer several times, but Jack persists and Jerry finally gives in. Helen, Jerry's mother, asks why he took the pen and says he should give it back because Doris Klompus will tell everyone in the condo that Jerry made Jack give it to him.
Elaine is forced to sleep on a sofa bed with a bar that sticks up through the mattress and hurts her back keeping her from being able to go scuba diving. She is extremely uncomfortable and it is not helped by the fact that the air conditioning is turned off. Morty suggests she take muscle relaxants. Rumors begin to spread around the community that Jerry wanted Jack to give him the pen. Jerry goes scuba diving without Elaine. When he returns, he has black eyes because the capillaries around his eyes burst when he went underwater and the pressure was too tight on his mask.
Jack comes over again and Jerry returns the pen. Morty yells at Jack for "taking Jerry's pen". Elaine decides she wants to take the muscle relaxants, but takes a slight overdose and shows up at the ceremony honoring Morty, wacked out her mind. She keeps channeling Marlon Brando screaming “Stella” in reference to Jerry’s Aunt who she has just been introduced to. Jerry has to wear sunglasses because of his black eyes. Jack is the Master of Ceremonies and turns the dinner into a "Roast", making cracks about Morty at the podium. Morty starts arguing with Jack again about taking back the pen and they start fighting. The next day, a chiropractor looks at Elaine's back and tells her she should not go anywhere for at least five days, extending both her and Jerry's stay even longer.
- This is the first and only episode in which both Kramer and George do not appear on camera.
- In this episode, Aunt Stella is married to Uncle Leo. While Uncle Leo appears in 13 more episodes, Stella never appears and in Season 7 Leo has a girlfriend, with no mention of what happened to Stella.
- Liz Sheridan who played Helen Seinfeld throughout the show called this her favorite episode.
Helen: He talks about it all the time. Every time he takes it out he goes on and on about how it writes upside down, how the astronauts use it.
Jerry: If he likes it so much, he never should have offered it.
Helen: He didn't think you'd accept.
Jerry: Well, he was wrong.
Favorite Scene: The entire scene when we first meet Jack Klompus. His entry, his wheat field eyebrows, his Brooklyn accent, his cheapness and his insistence that Jerry take the pen, established Jack as one of the great Seinfeld characters of all time. When settling up for dinner from the previous night, he calculates the bill to be $19.45 while denying that he had a coke.
Jack: So that's $17.10 and the tax and the tip.
Morty: All right. Make it 20 bucks.
Jack: It's: $19.45, Morty.
The Lesson: In the Pen, the true lesson is in fact the easy one. Don’t ask for something unless you are really ready to accept it, and don’t offer something unless you are really ready to deliver. I am amazed at the number of times people ask me for a meeting to discuss their startup and once we sit down they confess that they really aren’t quite sure what direction they are headed. They just wanted to talk. Clearly I am not special or unique. Nearly everyone who you would ask for advice is already extremely busy. You are only going to get one opportunity to make a first impression. If the first impression is that you are not organized, not for real, and not aware of the value of my time, I am going to be very reluctant to sit down with you when you are finally ready. Likewise, I am also in awe of the startups that are out “selling” their product or service to customers before it is even close to being completed. If you are selling me on something and offer it to me for a price that fits, be prepared for me to say yes. Be prepared for me to take the pen. For if you’re not, you may end up with a great deal of regret and a lost opportunity.