Confessions of a Pipe Smoker
Just the other day while working in my little corner of the world, I was sitting at my computer trying to come up with some witty prose while answering an email from a customer asking me about a certain tobacco that he enjoyed smoking regularly. He knew that I had smoked the blend that was the subject of his email and wanted my take on it. As I sat back in my chair to gather my thoughts, I absentmindedly reached for one of my pipes thinking that filling the bowl and lighting up for a few puffs might actually give me some inspiration. As I always do when getting a pipe from the rack to smoke, I did a quick blow through the stem to make sure that the air hole was clear before loading up. Well guess what? I had forgotten to clean out the pipe’s tobacco chamber after I had last smoked it. So, I spewed tobacco all over the place. My computer, my keyboard, my morning cup of coffee and even my dog who was laying dutifully beside my chair, were now covered in ashes and dottle. As I started cleaning up the mess even my faithful dog gave me a look of disdain.
I remember back a few years ago when the wife and I were headed to the funeral of a mutual friend’s mother. The funeral was scheduled for 2:00 PM that day in a city several hours away. So, we got up early in order to grab some breakfast, shower, get dressed and head out. My wife is a very tolerant person and does not complain when I smoke in the car as long as I don’t smoke anything with Latakia in it and leave my window cracked a bit while puffing away. So, for the trip I grabbed a favorite car pipe, stuffed it full of a favorite mild and naturally sweet smelling Virginia tobacco and then put it gently in its pipe rest in my car which is wooden and sits on the console between the seats. It is attached to the console by a sturdy double tape that I have to change out a couple of times a year as the adhesion does wear out over time. Anyway, the wife hopped in and away we went. The almost three hour trip was uneventful until we were about ten minutes away from the church. I had just put my pipe back in its holder when I had to make a hard left to avoid hitting a cat that had jumped into the road. I ran up a curb as I slammed on the breaks, missing someone’s mailbox by a hair. I thought all was okay until I heard my wife screaming that she was on fire. To my horror her skirt was smoldering and my pipe was sitting in her lap upside down with the still burning ashes all over her clothes. I quickly opened the glove box and got out some napkins to help snuff out the embers sitting in my wife’s lap, but the napkins soon caught fire and I had to hurriedly try to toss them out the window. One of the napkins didn’t make it and landed on my wife’s head and burned away a little bit of her hair. I used my hands to pat out the flaming napkin and did get the fire out before it had caused too much damage. We missed the funeral and I avoided divorce by a whisker.
My local pipe club – The Bud Price Pipe Club of Central Texas – has now been meeting monthly for nineteen years. We re-named the club about ten years ago when club co-founder Bud Price died unexpectedly. Anyway, every August we hold our annual Slow-Smoking Contest. I used to be in charge of selecting the pipe tobacco that we’d use for the competition. I was also the one who had to put together the packets of 3 grams of tobacco, two matches and a dowel tamper for each contestant. That doesn’t sound like much of a chore but just try it sometime when you have twenty packets to put together. Anyway, a few years ago I decided to treat the club members to what is (to me), a wonderful blend; Dunhill’s Murray’s era Royal Yacht. It is a powerful, nicotine laden Virginia that is lightly cased with a delicate, yet very noticeable natural flavoring that some people (like me), absolutely love while others absolutely hate it. My thought was that since I was always finishing the contest in the lower middle of the pack every year, I might fare better sucking on a blend I love. Part of the competition process was that I never revealed the name of the blend until the contest was over and would then present the winner with a tin of whatever the contest blend was. When the contest began that night, about five of the competitors dropped out quickly. One said he thought that perhaps his cat had mistaken his pipe for the litter box. Another quit because he said he was getting dizzy. A third gentleman spit the bit because he thought that I had accidently given him a baggie full of cow dung to smoke. I’m not sure why the other two quit as quickly as they didn’t live long enough to tell me. To make a long story short, the contest winner lasted almost an hour and could have gone longer but had to stop because he had the sweats, was nauseous, and wound up throwing up in the closest trash receptacle. He declined the free tin of Royal Yacht and, in fact, led the dastardly mutiny that later ousted me from being the one who selects the annual competition blend. They actually gave the job to someone else. Gee, talk about an ungrateful bunch of guys!
Changing subjects in order to try to put myself in a better mood; I have more “Truth is Stranger than Fiction” eBay stories to share with you. Since I auction literally thousands of pipes each year, I do get an unusually large number of questions. Most are quite normal, but unfortunately, some people just don’t get the eBay process and I am always amused by these folks. Here for your reading pleasure are four examples of emails that I have received through the eBay messaging system over the years –
eBay member – “Pipestud, I like that Peterson’s pipe you have at auction. But, since it is a lower end pipe I will only place a bid if you can assure me that you will remove your shipping fee when sending your invoice. I think you will agree that this is a fair offer. Be fast in your response though as I am also thinking about bidding on someone else’s Peterson.”
eBay member – “Pipestud, I really like that Stanwell Majestic on your auction site but am currently out of work. I start a new job in 3-weeks. If I win the auction please feel free to hold onto the pipe until I get my first paycheck and can send you the money. Shouldn’t be a problem as you’ll actually receive payment in less than 6-weeks. Deal?”
eBay member – “Dear Mr. Pipestud, I am the current winning bidder on the Rad Davis billiard in your auction that ends tomorrow. Rather than me paying for the pipe if I win, I propose an even trade. I have a pipe that my grandfather purchased many years ago from man who I think was a famous doctor who made pipes and stamped his name on them. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? His name was Dr. Grabow.”
And here’s one of my all-time favorites to close with –
eBay member – “Pipestud, I need to return the Peterson’s pipe I bought from you. I did not realize it has a vulcanite stem. For some reason my saliva on vulcanite stems makes them turn a nasty color. I only smoked this pipe just a half dozen times and need to return it. How do we proceed and when will I get my money back?”
Me – “Sorry that your personal chemical makeup does not agree with vulcanite stems. I did note in the item description that the pipe had a vulcanite, P-lip stem. And, since you’ve already smoked the pipe a half a dozen times I can’t accept a return but do thank you for your business.”
eBay member – “This pipe was already smoked anyway so I don’t see what the big deal is. Besides, I made it clear to you that I DON’T WANT THIS PIPE! Now, how will I receive my refund? And you say this pipe has a P-Lip stem. What is a P-lip?”
Me – “Okay, send the pipe back and once I receive it I will send you a PayPal refund. As for your question; I thought everyone knew about the famous Peterson’s P-lip, which is a stem that leads to a reservoir under the bowl so that the owner can discreetly urinate into it if he finds himself somewhere with no toilet facilities. Personally, that is why I’ve never purchased or puffed on a pre-smoked Peterson’s pipe with a P-lip.” – I never received a response or the pipe.
Happy Puffing to all!