Monday, May 17, 2010

The camaraderie of the pipe

It's been a few days since our SEM. For the uninitiated, that's a Special Emergency Meeting. Before you get excited, no, there wasn't an actual emergency. If there had been, it would have been an Emergency Meeting, like we had back when the tobacco tax scare hit. No, this was a Special Emergency Meeting, which basically means we needed an excuse to get together and smoke. Yes, I realize it was less than 24 hours after our regular pipe club meeting, but there really was a reason this time.

The Ozark Pipe Smokers had a special guest Friday. The pipe smoker known as "strongirish" joined us in a puff. Those who frequent the smoking forums, any of them really, probably know strongirish, or Earl, as he's known in real life. He's a regular contributor on so many of them, and he is one of pipe tobacco's most prolific reviewers. It often seems as though there are no tobaccos he hasn't tried, but more on that later.
Shop owner Frank Romeo and Earl share marvel over a David Tompkins elephant's foot.
What struck me is how readily this stranger fit into our circle, even as open as we are. Our group is open to those who smoke pipes, those who smoke cigars, those who smoke cigarettes (although we do push them toward the finer leaf), and even those who don't smoke, so long as they enjoy the room note and the company. The door is open and the coffee can at least be warmed up.
But here was a man who none of us had ever met, at least not in person. Some of us have read his words online, on the forums. I had even chatted with him and spoke with him on the phone. But seeing him face to face was something new.
Andrew, Earl and David Johnson
We showed off pipes, some made by others we knew on the forums, and we loaded up our bowls. Coincidentally, I had just received some South African tobaccos from a friend, tobaccos even Earl had not yet tried. They did leave something to be desired and made me long for some good old Cornell & Diehl. I'd expect to see a strongirish review soon, and knowing him, he'll have found something good about them.
Just for fun, some South African tobaccos that could have been much worse but made me grateful for the tobaccos available in America.
But there around that table, we all light up. We start swapping stories, stories about the tobacco we've smoked, the treasure we dug up in antique stores, and anything else we felt like lying about. It was as if all of us had been there the night before at the pipe club meeting and all the pipe club meetings before it. A happy meeting and the hopes of many more. The camaraderie of the pipe.

1 comment:

  1. Steve AKA SmokindawgMay 18, 2010 at 10:31 PM

    Very cool............. A great place to get together too, I know that first hand.