The Hairy Pipesmoker

When hundreds of pipe smokers congregate for a pipe show, common characteristics become noticeable, aside from everyone smoking pipes.

Pipe shows have a different demographic from the general population, skewing to a more advanced age with more men than women attending. That's why, at pipe shows, most obvious is the preponderance of facial hair, and I'm not referring to unruly eyebrows with independent and fulfilling lives of their own (of which there are many, generally in even numbers, with some exceptions) or ear hair (it's a cruel joke that our manly ears grow more hair than our heads after age 50), or that greatest of indignities, nose hair, which in some cases should be braided into existing mustaches. It's nice to see so many young people and women at shows now, people who don't have hair sprouting from places we'd rather it didn't, but they're still outnumbered by old guys like me.

There are a lot of beards at pipe shows. Full beards, long beards, short beards, goatees, sideburns and mustaches of all styles are everywhere evident. You can't throw a cat in any direction without it fetching up in one beard or another, yowling in disapproval and clawing for purchase among the follicles. (Sadly, show officers have grown wise to that trick, and I've been asked to retire my cat-throwing arm.)

Maybe our attraction to pipes is a symptom of a general respect for the past.

It's been speculated that pipe smokers gravitate to facial hair because of an inherent appreciation for the traditional: Pipes and beards, wrist watches (and pocket watches), pocket knives and quality pens are all at home at a pipe show. Maybe our attraction to pipes is a symptom of a general respect for the past.

We do seem to appreciate history, with an interest in historical pipe smokers and an attraction to pipes and tobaccos of earlier eras. However, I'm not sure that historical fascination can account for all the acreage of facial hair in our community.

I have an alternate theory: Pipe smoking makes one so content that the idea of shaving seems insignificant. When we're communing with the universe over a bowl of Virginias, as the mysteries of the cosmos unravel before our pipe smoking consciousnesses, when we're contemplating the great philosophical mysteries of humanity, getting up to shave is simply ridiculous.

That's why so many male pipe smokers have beards. All pipe smokers are thinkers, and we have better things to think about than shaving.

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   Editorial Humor Pipe Culture Pipe Shows Satire


    • Randy Tuggle on March 28, 2019
    • I tend to see this beard thing as a trend among younger people. Most legendary pipe smokers were gentlemen and took the time to shave daily. Just my two cents.

    • Eric S. on March 28, 2019
    • Myself, and my wife, like the lingering aroma that my mustache carries after a nice smoke.

    • John O on March 28, 2019
    • RE: Randy Tuggle: I'm a gentleman, and 62 years of age. I've worn a beard since 1976. Equating beards with being ungentlemanly is offensive, sir.

    • arpie rodgers on April 2, 2019
    • The fact is that if I could grow a beard I would, but because of something in my genes hair does not grow on my face. I count myself fortunate because at 63 I still have a full head of hair and very little gray, but man would I love to sport a beard now and then. My wife, on the other hand, disapproves of facial hair, she prefers my clean shaven face next to her lovely cheeks and complains of being scratched by whiskers every time I go 3 weeks without shaving. On the other hand, she has been most graceful in putting up with my pipe and tobacco hobby for the 25 years that we have been married, often contributing to my collection with gifts on special occasions. I guess God in His infinite wisdom knew what He was doing when He brought us together.

    • Marcus H on April 4, 2019
    • Gentlemen. Nobody grows a beard or a mustache - mother nature in her inherent wisdom for good looks and natural beauty does that. It happens automatically. It requires an appreciative and refined outlook to let nature take its course, (albeit with a little only too legitimate artistic shaping and grooming of the "raw materials"), just as it generally takes a more refined sensibility to cultivate the enjoyment of mother nature's sublime creation - tobacco - with a good pipe, as opposed to the utter barbarity of smoking cigarettes or chewing the heavenly leaf like bubble gum. Ergo - yes. More pipe smokers have beards and/or whatnot. Oops! My pipe went out explaining this. I bid thee farewell!

    • Dwayne B on August 5, 2019
    • Well put Marcus H

      Eric S...I agree! I and my wife love the lingering smell of pipe tobacco in my beard.

      It’s a different story when I smoke cigars...depending on the cigar blend, that requires some amount of cleaning ranging from a simple face wash to a shower before the wife or the dog will get close to me.

    • Randall B on February 16, 2022
    • Prior to WWI (no, I was not there), beards were worn with pride as a sign of prosperity and noble bearing. The necessity of gas masks during that brutal war caused beards to fall out of favor, as a tight mask seal could not be achieved with a heavy beard. Men began shaving more. As to the first comment on this thread, I must agree with John O. I am 68, wear a very large beard and have seldom been referred to a ungentlemanly. I’ve found that many who besmirch beards, strangely enough, are those who can’t grow a decent one. Cheers!

    • Randall B on February 16, 2022
    • I neglected to mention my total agreement with the author’s thought that a appreciation of history, tradition and links to the past…..yes beards included, are all things that pipe smokers connect with and gravitate towards. I am certainly a member of that group. Great article!

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