Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I managed to intrigue a Chinatown grandmother yesterday by lighting up a pipe on Stockton Street. Pipe-smokers are sufficiently rare that you do not see them often.
And, a distinct though not particularly likely possibility, I may have looked like her first lover. She herself appeared to be quite spry, and she must have been a very lively young lady over fifty years ago. She was waiting for the bus, I had stopped to light up. I could see her staring in amazement, reflected in the window glass.
When I turned, she promptly swiveled her head back toward the street.
I paused a bit in front of that shop window, pretending to examine the merchandise.
She slowly turned her head to scope out the pipe, which I had angled so that it would appear in full profile from her vantage point.
I twitched, as if to continue walking.
Her face snapped streetwards.

Oh wait, I did not see that item yet.
Better lean forward and inspect it.
Behind a reflective pane of glass.

Yep. She was looking again. And the smoke was whisping past her. Surely she could smell it, but she didn't seem to mind at all.
I'm more convinced than ever that her first lover smoked a pipe.
Possibly on the ferry back to Kowloon, after taking her dancing in Wanchai.

Lady, you should have married him. Yes, I know that back in the sixties good girls didn't get hitched to white men, but just think of how different your life would have been if you had taken the leap. Why, you'd be able to smell the haunting perfume of fine Virginia flake ALL the time, every day since.
Instead of only when a handsome stranger lights up after lunch.
Wouldn't that be heaven?
I think so.

My post-lunch dawdle took me down to where the parrots gather in the tall trees near the Embarcadero. Despite the chill grey season the birds were cheerfully and noisily hyperactive. If birds can be full of beans, these creatures were.
After flicking out the ashes, I headed home. At the top of the hill a man carrying grocery bags gently called to his little daughter to follow him, which she did.
She smiled happily, so very pleased at being with her father.
He had probably picked her up from school earlier.
Then bought fresh vegetables for dinner.
They looked lovely together.

Perhaps she'll grow up to be intrigued by pipe smokers.
They'll be an even greater rarity by then.
Possibly a protected species.


It was after teatime when I got home.
But it's always time for tea.
As well as cookies.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pipe tobacco and black tea.

Mmmmm, anglophilia!

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