Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Little About Pipes

My last pipe was a hoot. Wherever it is, it's a briar Brebbia Sabbiata Billiard with an acrylic bit. Lost the damn thing after the bit broke. Someone probably found it, regarded it with disdain, and tossed it. Seagulls could be smoking it at the dump. There is a very small chance that some fellow pipe smoker found it and bought a new bit, and is enjoying it. Probably an old fuck, or some stoner who thinks it's a marijuana pipe.

If he or she could pry the broken portion of the acrylic bit out of the stem, find the metal "filter," and return it to glory, then, well, onward and upward.

There is an Indian fellow down at the tobacco store nearby. It's a thriving operation, although most of the people in there are playing the lottery and buying scratch tickets, the rubes. Then again, I'm smoking a pipe, so how can I look down at them. Again, I'm smoking a pipe, for Heaven's sake. The man at the tobacco store answered my question, "Do you have a cheap, used pipe?" by producing a massive bowl of dusty...bowls. The cheapest one was out of my league, and the worn-out used bits gave me the heebies. The last Sherlock to smoke that thing is probably flying the marble kite precisely because he smoked a pipe. Despite looking death in the face, I sought a cheaper pipe at the last place one would expect to find one, Walgreen's.

The woman in front of me at the check out line argued for 10 minutes about a coupon. No shit. The cliched scene wore on me. Every damn time I'm at Walgreen's some old bitty is furious about a coupon misunderstanding. Every single time. "I am a leaf upon the wind," I thought. "Serenity now," I thought. "I am as light as a slice of bread," I thought. It wasn't helping.

After the massive convention convened, I flipped a Kit Kat Dark on the counter (wonderful candy bar, that) and asked for the Dr. Grabow "Grand Duke" straight stem briar pipe with lacquered bowl, up next to a enormous bag of tobacco. It's impossible to relate just how out-of-place both items seem in that environment. Next time you're at a Walgreen's give it a gander. It's very odd. And I've tried the insanely cheap pipe tobacco before and it's like smoking a bowl of wet leaves, with an aftertaste of ass. It's not good.

A ballet ensued. I pointed, the clerk looked at my finger and tried to find what I was asking for, and I spoke as plainly as I could, without my usual mumbling. "The pipe right there, the one in the plastic bubble, yes, right, yes, right there, yup, that's the one." The clerk was affable to begin with, but once he had the pipe in his hot little hand and rang it up, he screwed his face into a knot and thought very, very hard. "Man, the last person I saw with a pipe grandfather, or Sherlock Holmes." He said it with a smile. I decided to be friendly in turn. After all, I was trying to buy a pipe at a Walgreen's. No chance of blending in.

"Yes, there aren't many of us left," I said a bit too loudly, "under 100, that is." The brief conversation ended with a single word, carefully chosen after much thought.

"Wow." he said.

In my 1993 Mercury Tracer outside, I shredded the package and examined the gift I gave to myself. The first thing that occurred to me was, "I'm such an asshole." I'm not sure why, but there you go. It looked so very new. The "instructions" informed me as to how one "breaks-in" a new pipe. My fat little fingers packed the bowl with Super Value "Butter Rum" and I smoked the fucking thing.

The first thing I noticed is that I got dizzy, and the draw was like...sucking a canary through a Bic pen. That's exactly what it was like. Exactly. I popped the bit off and inspected the guts of the pipe. A filter the size of a tampon was crammed into the stem, and it was already black. I sighed, pulled the filter out, and reassembled the Grand Duke. It drew wonderfully now. If I didn't want cancer causing smoke to fill my lungs, I wouldn't be smoking, now would I?

The bowl has been lovingly carbonized over the past week. The taste is getting better. At first it was like smoking a straw, then like smoking a straw with hair in it, now it smokes like a pipe. Yum!

Now, a little about pipe tobacco.

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