I promised myself that when I opened my tobacco shop, I would proudly display a sign on the door saying "Thank you for smoking." At the rate that we're losing our liberty to smoke tobacco, though, I think my dream is moribund.
You see, I'm a smoker. Not cigarettes, pipes. And the occasional cigar, but they're usually on the side or during drinking parties. I love my pipes. I love my pipe tobacco. The most favourite job I ever held? Hands down it was working for Old Grey Mare's husband at The Tinder Box in our local mall. I've smoked a pipe since I was around 20 or so, and don't plan on stopping.
That "Thank you for smoking" sign came from The Tinder Box, actually. The boss had taken a black marker to a standard ADA sign and blacked out the word "not," and placed it on the register. TB was the only place in the mall where you could smoke, you see, and people of all walks would come by to stand and smoke when they didn't want to go outside, or if they just wanted to hang out amongst like-minded people. I loved the talk that would flow freely among this very diverse group of people, and so when I opened my online shop, I bought a black ADA plaque, markered out the word "not" and hung it over my doorframe, to honour all the folks who still enjoy the company of Old Toby.
And yes, I know what tobacco does. I accept the risk as freely as I accept the risks inherent in motorcycle riding. And the same as my bike I love my pipes. So don't preach to me, I'm a grown boy. Thanks.
I love the ritual of my pipes. I love the choosing of tobacco, the choosing of the pipe. I become engrossed with the simplest actions inherent in cleaning the bowl, packing tobacco, and finding my tamp, which is forever running away to hide. I love the smell of pipe tobacco in the room, and I love relaxing in my chair smoking, putting the final touches on a big, filling meal. And I love blowing smoke rings, thinking slow, lazy thoughts of Bilbo and Gandalf sitting on the front step of Bag End.
The history of pipes is a long and involved one, as is the modern pipe and pipesmoker, and I won't even try to go into it, nor will I get on my soapbox and start decrying the tighter and tighter restrictions on our freedoms that tobacco is suffering. I simply wanted to make someone smile when they think of a favourite person in their life to whom they are tied even more tightly because of a bowlfull of a common plant.
I'm going to smoke a pipe now. I think perhaps the big rusticated bulldog, and my antler and cocobolo wood tamp, the box of wooden kitchen matches, and some nice rich McClelland's "Frog Morton."