Pipe Lessons No. 65 and 66
Part of the fun of the pipe smoking hobby is learning new things, though, admittedly, we are quite often being instructed as much by our mistakes as we are our fellows. Like, don’t take apart a pipe while it’s hot - that’s a rookie mistake I made once upon a time. Here’s another, which I learned just this past weekend: Look inside the pipe’s bowl before putting tobacco in it.
On Saturday, Shelly and I decided to drive up to Wilmington, NC to hang out with Sykes and Alyson, and to have dinner at a particular tapas restaurant. I’d already been there myself once before, a week prior, as a matter of fact, with Sykes and Alyson, but I was pretty eager for Shelly to partake as well. Like most people, we both like finding new places to eat. Shrimp, scallops, lamb, kangaroo, beef, fried pickles, macaroni and cheese, beet salad; all were available, even all as part of the same meal. Albeit fairly eclectic, which I suppose is part of the fun, the restaurant's assortment of appetizer-style platters made for a super tasty dinner. Plus the ambience is remarkable, in a dimly lit, jazz-lounge sort of way.
Earlier in the evening, on the porch of Sykes and Alyson’s new home, the four of us were chit-chatting before heading to dinner. I had brought along my new favorite pipe in a small, leather pipe pouch, a Tokutomi Sandblasted Blowfish (2004), my souvenir from this year’s Richmond Pipe Show. So I pulled the thing out and began packing it with Germain’s King Charles Mixture from a freshly opened tin.
Here I should mention that my wrist and hand have been bothering me lately. It’s carpel tunnel syndrome or something. Maybe I’ll have a doctor check it out one day. In the meantime I’ve taken to wearing a hand brace, something loaned to me by Adam, and popping four 200mg tablets of ibuprofen a few times a day. Also, while I’m doling out credit, Pam gave me a jar of Tiger Balm. I’m feeling better now, thanks. But that Saturday? Not so much. That’s why I threw four ibuprofen pills in the pipe pouch along with the Tokutomi and pipe cleaners, which at the time seemed better than putting them in my pocket. This was my first mistake. Or, rather as I like to see it now, it was establishing a foundation for a learning opportunity.
King Charles Mixture is a tasty, light bodied blend that features only a pinch of latakia. It’s not flavored in any way, and as a consequence many smokers find the blend a bit insipid. However, I like it very much and have become quite familiar with it. What I’m trying to say here, folks, is that I know what this stuff is supposed to taste like, which is why I was pretty concerned right off the bat, that evening in Wilmington, when the smoke took on a most unpleasant, certainly unfamiliar anise flavor. Puzzled, irritated, and thoroughly disgusted, I gave up on the bowl and emptied the chamber into the nearest ashtray I could find on the porch. This is something I rarely do. I hate to waste tobacco. Hate it. Once emptied, I examined the pipe with my nose and was filled with anxiety at the likelihood that I’d just ghosted my new favorite pipe with some wicked awful helping of the foulest tobacco. This sucker was going to have to be reamed back to the briar.
On the way to the restaurant, I was still completely mystified as to why my last smoke, with such a familiar blend, could have been so terrible. Obviously I was missing something. As I put the pipe back into the pouch I discovered what was missing exactly: a pill. That’s right. I smoked an ibuprofen. And I lived to tell about it. We all laughed about it for the next few hours. But I also cried a little inside, to be honest with you.
Pipe Lesson #65: Don’t pack your pipe without checking the bowl. Sounds rather pedantic, until you smoke something you really, really shouldn’t. Pipe Lesson #66: Prohibit putting pills in a pipe pouch. Otherwise you’re in for a potentially killer smoke, in all the wrong ways.
Which reminds me, we’ve got a killer update rolling out this evening. New pipes from the likes of Peter Heding, Rad Davis, Randy Wiley, Claudio Cavicchi, and Peter Heeschen, as well as new works from Tsuge, Peterson, Savinelli, Stanwell, Winslow, and Ashton. Rounding things out here, you’ll find another 60 fresh estate pipes. And not least of all, we're re-introducing to Smokingpipes.com Erik Nording's "Hunter Blends" which come in four distinct mixtures: Fox Hound, Pointer, Beagle, and Retriever.
But seriously, don’t smoke ibuprofen.
Ted Swearingen: Sales Manager