Monday, January 11, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up to marvel at the cure for the ages!

Have you ever wondered why you can't be smarter? Of course, if you're not already smart, you won't find an answer. It's nature's Catch 22. That's some catch, that catch 22. It's the best there is. But I digress, which, if you are still wondering why you aren't smarter, is a word you probably won't be able to look up in the dictionary. The symptoms of this disorder are an inability to spell your own name, anxiety trying to figure out how to dial a phone number, and complete bewilderment about why, even in your adult life, you still don't understand what people mean when they keep talking about "birds and bees." Ladies and gentlemen, I have your answer. But first ...
Have you ever wondered why you aren't more manly? Of course, if you're not already manly, then you don't have the guts to ever man up. It's nature's Catch 22. That's some catch, that catch 22. It's the best there is. But even though I'm making fun of you, you won't have the fortitude to do anything but flinch at my literary assault. The symptoms of this disorder are an inability to raise your voice, even if you are speaking under a jet turbine, anxiety in making a fist, even if you have no intention of swinging it, and complete bewilderment about why John Wayne, even in his death, is still the manliest man in the world, followed closely by Chuck Norris. Ladies and gentlemen, I have your answer.

First, rest assured that the problem is not you, no matter how many people make fun of you by using big words or kicking sand in your face. No, you are not to blame for your shortcomings. And the problem is not the others who delight in mocking you, because you are truly deserving of their ridicule.
Here today, for only the price of admission, I have your one-step, one-stop cure-all, the answer to your prayers, the yin to your yang, the cream to your coffee. You can drift off to sleep tonight knowing that you will wake with no ill effects, side effects or after effects, just the satisfaction of knowing you are forever changed. In order to know the solution, we must know the problem. The problem is your pipe, specifically, its stem.

For those who lack wisdom and intelligence, we must turn our considerations inward toward the heart, mind and soul, and we must have a pipe that does the same, extending from our mouths and curving around as if to return to us, an inward-reaching effort, straining against all the fibers of which it is made. Yes, to achieve your highest intelligence potential, you must seek a bent-stem pipe.
We look for evidence in the smartest among us, a detective for whom no case was impossible to solve, the ever-observant, ever-deductive Sherlock Holmes. The world's most famous detective is best know for, even though it appeared in none of the novels that featured him, his calabash pipe. For those who don't know, a calabash pipe is fully bent, often made of gourd, and centers around a meerschaum bowl. There are variations in size and material, but they are all marked by a distinct curvature so extreme that they make even my beloved oom paul pipes look like a hockey stick.
But, of course, you must wonder if it is the pipe that gives him his intelligence or if his intelligence led him to select that pipe or if the entire thing is simply, at best, a coincidence or, at worst, a random, inappropriate decision made by the television studios that was not in keeping with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novels. Well, you might be thinking that, but not if you haven't gotten yourself a new, bent pipe yet.

In the novels, Holmes is described briefly during times of deep thought by his partner Dr. Watson. It is during those times when he needed most to ponder, Watson told us, that Holmes would pile tobacco on his table and smoke throughout the night until, in the morning, there was nothing but scraps remaining. Clearly what we are seeing is a man facilitating intellectual enhancement through the smoking of tobacco in what television shows us is a calabash pipe with a deep curvature. The method is not unusual to myself, as my teeth are now holding a Comoy's pipe with a three-quarter bend to enhance my writing abilities, very much like Mark Twain, a writer whom I deeply admire.
Those of you who have already found such pipes may be wondering about other intelligent men who did not smoke a bent pipe, men like Albert Einstein. I, however, would counter that we do not know how much Einstein's famed straight billiard impeded his work. Had he smoked a bent pipe, we may not be limited to moving no faster than the speed of light.

For those who lack a backbone, we must turn our focus outward to the obstacles, the trials and tribulations that daily attempt to dissuade action, and we must have a pipe that does the same, extending from our mouths in a forward direction, leading our steps and our actions ever onward. Yes, to achieve your maximum level of manliness, you must seek a straight-stem pipe.
We look for evidence in the bravest among us, the man who stared into hell and made the devil blink, the man who took to the sea during World War II because he thought solid footing gave him an unfair advantage, the ever ready, ever steadfast Gen. Douglas MacArthur. For those who don't know, MacArthur was so manly, he found even the stately billiard too dainty. He commissioned a pipe from Missouri Meershaum — a corncob so he could easily replace it if it was damaged or lost during the commission of his manly activities — that stands straight out from his mouth nearly a foot and centers around what can only be described as a hollowed-out ear of corn. Missouri Meerschaum offers two versions of the "MacArthur" pipe, "both being unfiltered." Of course they are unfiltered, because a man as manly as MacArthur would never let a filter get between him and a good smoke.
But, of course, you must wonder if it is the pipe that gives him his manitude or if his testosterone led him to select that pipe or if the entire thing is simply, at best, a coincidence or, at worst, a calculated decision to intimidate his enemies with the strength of his squared jaw. Well, you might be thinking that, but you'd never say it out loud if you haven't gotten yourself a new, straight pipe yet.

In the photographs, MacArthur is seldom seen with a pipe while performing any task, preferring to smoke in front of the cameras only while he was standing rigid and ready for action. Clearly what we are seeing is a man preparing for some great, formidable task and gathering every ounce of his internal strength through the use of the pipe. The connection between pipe and powerhouse is not unusual, evoking images of our most beloved ruffian, Popeye the Sailor, whose corncob pipe is not only an accessory but also another tool at his disposal as he seeks spinach and bearded villains in need of a good uppercut.
Those of you who have already found such pipes may be brimming up the courage to ask about other manly men who smoked curved pipes or no pipes at all. Well, there aren't any, at least none that manly. You pick any manly man you want, but I promise you that, when he looks down the barrels of 20-milimeter guns mounted on the deck of a United States Navy aircraft carrier with Gen. MacArthur standing behind them with his finger in the air, ready to give the order to fire, he'll do what any other sissy would do and pee in his pants. You don't doubt the manliness of a man with a straight pipe.

I feel now that I must point out that my findings are echoed by one Quentin Tarantino. In his delightful film Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino presents a portrait of two pipe smokers. There is the brilliant Nazi and the defiant farmer. During the scene, the farmer methodically prepares, packs, ignites and puffs a simple but elegant corncob pipe with a reed stem. It is a step-by-step process that, to many pipe smokers, is more important than the actual smoking of the pipe. The Nazi strategist counters by pulling out the largest calabash pipe I've seen. It is pre-packed and ready to smoke, clearly pulled only to wage an intellectual battle with the poor, likely-uneducated farmer. I do not wish to divulge too much of the story, but we can safely say the farmer may have fared better had he lit one of MacArthur's magnificent cobs instead.

Now, with that wealth of information, I send you off to get your bent or straight pipes, whichever might suit the need. But then again, I realize my error in assuming too much of you. If you do not already have such a pipe, then you are either not smart enough or not manly enough to go buy one. Your only hope is to have someone else buy one. Clearly asking someone to buy you one is too much to expect of you, for the same reason you cannot buy one yourself. But I do think I can find a compromise. You may be in luck if you simply leave this page open until someone, who is both smart and manly enough to act upon this information on your behalf, sits down at your computer. Of course, we all know you won't be closing this page anyway. Either you aren't smart enough to find the button to close the page (probably because you're searching inside the walls for a mouse) or you can't find the fortitude to walk away.
Let me know how things change once you do receive your new pipe, and not a moment sooner, as if that were possible.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic post!

    Your description of the "face off" between the lowly corncob and the massive calabash in QT's movie is perfect.

    Next time I'm in Arkansas (perhaps this spring) I'll have to stop by Rogers and look you all up. Of course I'll need to bring along a bent pipe so we can engage in a battle of wits...