Tobacco has always been about ritual and presentation for me. Well, mostly ritual, but I like to think that I struck an imposing figure when I would walk boldly into a bar, draped in my leather trench coat, and with a quick flick of the wrist brought my Zippo to life and let the flame light my features for an extra long moment before lighting a waiting Newport. (Yeah, I have a rather overpowering imagination steeped in noir.)
But it was the rituals that I really enjoyed. Waking up on a cold winter's morning, taking a hot cup of green tea and thick blanket out onto the porch to greet the sun with the first cigarette of the day. A similar ritual said good night, although it was usually included something stronger than tea. Of course, each ritual took several cigarettes to get through.
Of course, there were other less defined "rituals," Chain-smoking while driving, the after-dinner cigarette, the reward cigarette(s) for finishing up an article on deadline.
However, the problem with cigarettes is in time and numbers. Their length never really provides enough smoke and 20 in a pack seems to demand you smoke them all before they go stale.
During the times I had "quit," I had often wished that I could smoke one or so every once awhile but I knew this would lead me back to regular smoking. The option that often came to mind was a pipe.
However, pipe smoking wasn't much of a presence in my "culture" at the time; it was something wizards and detectives did. And as cool as that was, it never really solidified as a real option in my mind. I had no relatives that smoked pipes or any other experience. My only attempt at pipe smoking around this time was trying to smoke a crushed menthol in the bowl of a brass and steel tomahawk/peace pipe ordered out of a Museum Replicas catalog. The project turned into a effort requiring drilling out the hole some, using hot glue to seal the axe head/bowl to the wooden haft/stem. It was not a pleasing encounter.
It would be several years (six of those as an "ex-smoker"), nearly 700 miles exactly and a new job before I had my real chance to try smoking a pipe.
That pipe was a Savinelli Qandale Churchwarden with some McClelland Walnut Liqueur (I have since added a Tsuge bent Pot to my collection, for a bit more practical smoke while I work). And from the moment I started to prepare the tobacco and pack the bowl, I knew I was on the right track. This was the ritual I was looking for. And while it might seem strange to others, I smoke only about once or twice a week or so, enjoying the processes involved.
So, as I start off on this new adventure into the world of smoking, it seems a shame that I wasted so much time thinking about it instead of trying it (for real). And pipe smoking might not be for everyone, but if perhaps your interest has been piqued, leading you to our site and this blog, and have never before smoked a pipe, then I say give it a go. The variety of options and tastes available may be daunting, but it also means that there is probably a combination out there that will fit right into your personal rituals.
Christopher Huff: Copywriter