This is the first direction my brain went on this strip after seeing the expressions on these two people’s faces, the pencils the woman is holding, and the fact that both characters have black dust on their faces.  The latter is arguably intended to be shadows or a way to show texture or some sort of artsy shading I don’t know the name for rather than graphite dust, but…she’s totally holding pencils.

I originally had the guy going on about the metal thing, about how it separated erasure from creation and was therefore a metaphor for the separation between life and death, and how we don’t know what it’s called  because we don’t understand.  But that ended up being too distracting and didn’t really add anything.

MRS. SHOEBOX’S ASSESSMENT OF TODAY’S STRIP: Actually, the Number 2 on the pencil is a measure of its hardness.  The Number 2 is an HB pencil, and because it makes a good solid mark and is also easy to fully erase, it was selected as the standard pencil to be used in Scantron tests.  They actually did studies on this.  What?  Oh.  Yes, the strip’s amusing.

Things I did when researching for this strip:
– Looked up the proper spelling of “coworkers.”  Apparently both “coworkers” and “co-workers” are acceptable.
– Attempted to find a description, or at least a suggestion, of the actual effects of snorting graphite.  Several people have asked questions about this online, and I’m unsure how much this should frighten me.  My research suggests that the most common effects would be illness (potentially pneumonia) and black boogers.
– Attempted to verify my wife’s description of pencil number ratings, but accidentally typed in “penil number ratings.”  Google’s attempt to correct this spelling was unhelpful, at best.
– Deliberately didn’t look up the name of the metal thing that holds the eraser on.  I’ve gone thirty-six years without this information, and I’m perfectly happy with this.   Life needs a little mystery.