At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Today somebody apologized for missing his pipe class on Sunday, and offered as an excuse that he was whacking balls with a buddy whose sister had passed away a few weeks ago; the man needed distraction.
While it is absolutely charming that he apologized, it really wasn't necessary. After all, I want him to become a pipe-smoker. It's almost a missionary drive on my part -- no, I do not stand on street corners with helpful pamphlets like "pointers for the new pipe stud", or "am I packing it right?", and I do not approach strangers with leading questions like "have you ever thought about Cavendish?" or "ask yourself; how can briar improve your life?" -- and I'm tickled pink that confirmed cigar-degenerates like him are actually considering changing their life-style.

Cigar-smoking IS a life-style, in case you were wondering. It's a choice, not something they were born with.

Sometime between their adolescence and early middle-age, an older man pulled them conspiratorily into a dark alley and ruined their life. Ever since then they've been looking for even bigger thrills, stronger tobaccos.
Their old friends shun them, and say "he's changed".
Or "she". Some cigar smokers are female.

Pipe-smokers, however, usually aren't converted by older and unwiser associates. We're perfectly capable of corrupting ourselves.

We are in charge of our own astray-leading.

Genius is born, not made.

When I was thirteen years old, I bought my first briar. About two months later, by which time I was fourteen, I acquired two tins of pipe-tobacco, as owning an instrument in which to combust, but naught to combust therein, is, when you think about it, rather silly.

When I was fifteen I had made the switch from ghastly aromatic shit to decent un-aromatized smoking mixtures. Soon thereafter I discovered Latakia, which is a wonderful smoky, leathery, woodsy leaf, superlative in proportions from twenty five to fifty percent, often best between 37½ and 43¾%. It was a revelation.

But I didn't actually know how to smoke a pipe properly until I met the manager at Drucquer and Sons in Berkeley, who was a small bespectacled Chinese woman of considerable charm and sharp wit, who told me I was doing it all wrong.

People always make mistakes in the beginning. For four years I had been smoking messily and mistreating my pipes.

Unlike cigars, which are fairly easily mastered, and cigarettes, which quickly prove a bad habit, a pipe does take a bit of advice.
Smoke slow. Dry your tobacco out a bit before loading. Do not pack too tight, you will adjust with a tamper as you go down. Use pipe cleaners during and after. Let the pipe rest between smokes (you will need enough briars that each one can sit for a day after being used).
Avoid aromatics (mixtures with added flavourings, such as peach, cherry, caramel, vanilla, chocolate, etc.), as such tobaccos are slightly worse than venereal disease lesions visible to everyone. The smell will make fastidious people vocalize or vociferate, men of good taste will avoid associating with you, and spazzbrained dingos shall come oozing up to lithp "ooh, that remindth me tho much of my grandfather!"
You don't want to remind people of their grandfather; you want to remind them of that handsome Latin tutor at college. Leastways someone young, charming, and slightly mysterious.

Like, for instance, a very personable Chinese woman.
Who was known for wit and keen intelligence.
Plus sound judgement, and good taste.

My associate who missed his pipe lesson does not ooze.
He's a long way from a being a Chinese woman.
Which is rather a frightful pity.

He needs to unlearn several bad personal habits, such as many (most) cigar-smokers inevitably have. Pipe-smoking is something clean and upstanding, which can build character and inculcate sound judgement in both men and women. Cigars, however, are often a vehicle for moral turpitude, and may lead to depravity or viciousness.
Many cigar-smokers are doubtful people.

Pipe-smokers are extremely nice.
Interesting and clever.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



  • At 7:40 AM, Anonymous e-kvetcher said…

    Need more coffee this morning. I read "When I was thirteen years old, I bought my first briar" as "When I was thirteen years old, I bought my first bra".

    Stopped in my tracks.

  • At 9:56 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Wow. That brightened my morning considerably.

    And, now that you mention it, that's one of life's great experiences that heretofore I have not had.

    Perhaps I should rectify that. Purely as an intellectual conceit, of course. I wonder under what pretext I can wander into the nearest brassiere emporium, though.

  • At 10:52 AM, Anonymous e-kvetcher said…

    I assume that even in San Francisco, men can buy lingerie for their significant others?
    However, if you are looking to buy a bra for a 13 year old, that would require more create pretexts...

  • At 1:18 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Scene from a favourite manga novel: young lady goes to buy her first bra. Is extremely self-conscious and goes into panic when the saleslady offers her help. Grabs the most visible item, pays for it, and bolts.

    It is large enough for basketballs.

    Which, when she gets home, she realizes she does not have.

  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Almost no one has basketballs.
    At least, I think not.

    Perhaps I should hold a poll among friends and family.

  • At 1:20 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    "For this next magic trick I shall need a volunteer...."

  • At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Bra-less in Milwaukee said…

    I was thirteen years old when I bought my first bra.

    I often wonder what happened to it. I should have had it bronzed.


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