I’ve taken up smoking a pipe recently. I was a cigarette smoker when I was young but it’s been almost thirty years since I quit and smoking a pipe is something I wanted to try for a long while now. It’s relaxing and not like a cigarette at all.
It’s funny because it doesn’t make me crave. At first I thought that if I had a puff of tobacco I’d be immediately back in the frenzy and out buying a carton of Player’s Plain cigarettes. That’s what I smoked back then. Unfiltered, nasty things. The only good thing about them was that no one ever wanted to bum one.
But a pipe is a different experience. Oh sure, I’ve smoked the ceremonial pipe and maybe that’s what makes this new habit so fulfilling. There’s the whole ritual element for one thing. There’s a deliberate process just like smoking our red bowl pipes.
First you scrape out the remains of your last smoke from the bowl. Then you clean the stem with a pipe cleaner. After that you open the pouch and take pinches of tobacco and put them in the bowl and tamp it down snug with a tamping tool. You’re ready then.
I prefer a wooden match to a lighter. There’s just something more old-fashioned about that and it’s the old-fashioned thing that attracts me to pipe smoking. The match flares and you start to puff to light the tobacco. That first draw tastes marvelous.
Once it’s going good the moment of magic happens. That’s when you get to swing one leg over the other, sit back in your favorite chair, keep one hand on the bowl of the pipe and puff away lazily. Time just seems to swing back to a slower pace and you just relax.
I think a lot when I smoke my pipe. It’s like the activity is built for contemplation and I really get into it. I can think about the plot of my new novel, which trades the Boston Red Sox should make or the paw print of the bobcat I saw on the trail.
I feel really mature, almost grandfatherly. I slip away from all the distracting things of the world and become a really cool old guy – and I like that. I am an old guy. When I smoke my pipe I don’t have to wrestle with that. I can just be me.