Saturday, March 08, 2014


At the recent meeting of the pipe club, rather than a lighthearted and informational lecture about some facet of our hobby (neurotic obsession), we instead discussed our very first pipes, and how we started off as pipe-smokers. Some of us began in high-school, many later as university students. A pipe, it seemed, was fitting in an academic environment.
Naturally I agree; nothing says "collegiate" more than a fine briar.
So I was shocked, surprised, and disappointed. Utterly.
That no one took it up in a girls school.
And why not, I wish to know?
Female pipe smokers?
So civilized!

Perhaps because none of us are women. That would explain a lot.

Well, maybe there are such beings. But our local pipe club consists entirely of very likable gentlemen, many of them several years past Gymnasium or Universität in age; from youngish to "avuncular".
Women have not joined, though we would welcome them.
No matter their age or background.

Fond fantasy of mine: young lady starts smoking a pipe while enrolled at Holy Rood Latin Academy For Girls. By the time she hits Oxford, she's developed a taste for full-bodied Balkan Mixtures. After a stint as a mercenary in Bosnia and Rwanda, she begins to dabble in the Virginia-Perique mixtures she eschewed as a lass, and discovers a taste for fine red and brown flue-cured compounds made tangy with Louisiana leaf.

In her early thirties, she goes into local politics. Henceforth there will be sherry at all city council meetings.

Either that, or sweet fruity cocktails served ironically with Hello Kitty swizzle sticks.

At the beginning of our meeting, the cigar smokers in the lounge were hooting up a storm. Unlike us pipe men, they cannot express themselves without excessive usage of the F word. And they are loud, too.
It resembled a homo-erotic mating frenzy.
Very uncouth of them.

After the meeting ended, four of us repaired to the only commercial establishment in San Francisco where you may smoke indoors.
Which was filled with big beefy middle-aged fratboys and loud drunken blondes. Nothing, absolutely nothing, harshes a civilized mellow more than the voice of a brassy fag huffing fishwife, blitheringly blotto.
Fortunately the worst exemplar was carted off by her swain, leaving the floor to somewhat less appalling bimborettas; still a pain in the gand, but the fever level went down.

Another fond fantasy: barely post-teenage Asian American garbed like a manga death-goth-nurse strides in with an AK 47 and clears the room of all loud intoxicated suburbanites, then, satisfied that the selective massacre restored sanity and civilization, lights up a Leon Jimines Belicoso (Connecticut wrapper, Dominican long-filler), puts her still smoking weapon on the blood-stained counter and orders a Flying Grasshopper (crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and vodka), which the shaking bartender silently and unprotestingly places in front of her.
She pulls out a well-worn copy of Death In Venice (Thomas Mann), removes the bookmark, and continues reading where she left off.
Gustav has returned to his hotel, and started drinking heavily.
He obsesses over the lithe and beautiful Polish boy.
Youthful, lissome, and positively Greek!
Mein himmel, so schön ist er!
Auch sehr epizän.

In the now quiet and peaceful smoking environment, the four pipe smokers and the ladylike cigar-chomping Asian American terrorista enjoy their tobacco and chosen libations, while the bartender wonders why nobody thought of doing this before. Scrubbing with lead, that is.
Why, it's SO much better than it was! Heavenly!
Bitch to clean up tomorrow, though.
Good that there are tiles.
Instead of wood.

After finishing their pints of Guiness, the other three pipe smokers left.
I joined K-chai at his table near the window, and we talked about the Ukraine, crazy American ideas about foreign policy, and Cuban exiles.

Later we drove through the darkened post-midnight city, wondering where all the drunks had gone. I speculated that if they were white and young, they had gotten an early start, and were already three sheets and several coronas to the wind. If they were the typical middle-aged depressants of this quarter of the city, they might be lying in their hotel rooms with a tourniquet and a filthy needle, dreaming dreams of faded hippy glory. Polk Street was nearly empty, except for a few people lined up outside the donut place. No doubt computer engineers getting a sugar fix, there is more code-monkeying to be done!

As you first read this, it is Saturday night. The city is awash with intemperance, the cigar bar has pulled in the rabid mob, who wish to start their orgies with a fine cheroot. If it were up to me, the place would be filled with pipe smokers, gothic nurses quietly reading (or polishing their Kalashnikovs), and cups of jasmine tea. Well, not really filled. Maybe only a dozen people or so, and variations on a grasshopper.
With a Hello Kitty swizzle stick.

See, I am a rather civilized fellow, unlike the majority of cigar smokers. Or twenty-something dotcommers. Who are all deviants and alcoholics.

I doubt a single one of them has read Thomas Mann.


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