The pipe cabinet was a bustle of anticipation. All the pipes were standing up straight and looking their best in the hope that they would be chosen for smoking on Christmas morning, a position of honor, and every pipe's ambition.
It was more than a month before the big day, and while every pipe hoped, most knew that the advantage was with a couple of newer artisan pipes that were getting a lot of smoking time. Still, the others were time-proven smokers, so all hopes were elevated.
Neudorf was not a new pipe and had no hope of being chosen. He'd been purchased abroad at the beginning and had enjoyed years of regular smoking, but now all the other pipes were smoked more than Neudorf. An unassuming lattice Billiard meerschaum stained a rose red, he had colored further over the years, adding pinks and deep maroons to his palette like a developing flower petal, but he knew he was deformed, having been born with a shank not quite as long as his bowl was tall, making him an imperfect traditional Billiard. He was an embarrassment to all the other pipes, who would not associate with him. They called him Short Shank and made him stay alone in a far corner of the cabinet.
With only four weeks until Christmas, the unthinkable happened: Neudorf was boxed and shipped away. He huddled in the dark, wondering what his fate might be. Soon, though, the box opened and Smokingpipes' restoration expert, Adam Davidson, greeted him with elf-like good humor. "Welcome to the Island of Misfit Smoking Pipes!" he said. "We'll have you fixed up soon!" Neudorf had heard rumors of a place for castoff pipes, but thought it a fairytale.
Neudorf had heard rumors of a place for castoff pipes, but thought it a fairytale.
He was cleaned and reamed, polished and photographed, but then placed into another box. Weeks passed before his hopes subsided and he accepted that this must be how unwanted pipes disappeared, refurbished only for their final resting. He should have known that a short-shanked deformity like himself, no matter how well reconditioned, deserved no more than internment here in what was probably a landfill.
One day there was some commotion, and Neudorf's box opened, revealing colorful lights that he thought he'd never see again. It was a Christmas tree. Astonished, he recognized Christmas morning. He was being unwrapped as a gift!
"Look at that!" said an ephemeral voice. "Beautiful! I'm loading and smoking it right now." Neudorf was overwhelmed as his tobacco chamber was filled with a delightful Virginia/Perique blend and fired up for his first-ever Christmas morning smoke. "The colors on this pipe are fantastic," said the voice. "I especially like how the shank is a little short and extended with a longer stem. Wow, what a smooth smoke!"
Other pipes scattered about the room looked on with approval and admiration. The eager meerschaum had found his place at last, and according to legend, if you lean close to your pipe rack late on Christmas Eve, you may hear your own rotation celebrating with the happy Christmas tale of Neudorf the Red-Rose-Stained Meer.