Reuniting With An Old Friend

For those of us who are more seasoned pipe smokers (okay, those of us who are old), this story is probably similar to one of your own. I’m talking about when you decide to pull out a pipe you have not smoked in months or years for no reason other than just to get reacquainted. I don’t get that urge very often because the only pipes that remain in my Lazy Susan racks are mostly the ones I enjoy smoking regularly. However, on occasion, for whatever reason, I may go a long period of time without smoking a particular chunk of briar even though I have no particular reason for not having removed it from reserve to active duty status. It just happens. I’ll get back to this thought in a moment.

After many years of having gone overboard with my PAD (Pipe Acquisition Disorder), I decided a decade or so ago to get a handle on my shameful disorder. So, I went through my collection and selected – after many hours of stressful pondering – what I felt like were my top 36 smoking pipes and put them in a couple of 18-hole Lazy Susan style racks (the photo to your left). I keep those racks in a glass enclosed case which is a part of my smoking cabinet where I keep all kinds of smoking related items. I then took the dozen or so pipes that I don’t smoke but are special to me for various reasons and put them away in a drawer in my shop. Over the years as I was pulling pipes out of my top-36 and replacing them with better smokers, I’d take the banished pipes and put them in a drawer, too. And now I’m up to three or four drawers full of banished pipes and have expanded my elite “smokers” to include a third Lazy Susan 18-hole pipe rack. Good Lord, how does one get rid of TAD? I think it’s incurable!

I admit that one of the pipes that I have always kept in the top 36 – okay, now the top 54 –  is an old Duca Barla bent billiard that my wife gave to me as a Christmas gift back when we were dating over 20-years ago. Don’t tell her this but I tried smoking that pipe a dozen times over the years and each time I determined that Hell itself could not burn hotter. Whenever she sees that pipe, which thankfully isn’t often, she’ll ask how her pipe is doing. I always say, “smoking as good as it did the day you gave it to me, honey,” which I figure isn’t really a lie because it didn’t smoke “good” the first time I smoked it and it still doesn’t smoke “good.” That must mean the pipe still smokes “as good” as the day she gifted it to me, right?

Now, back to my original story; a couple of weeks ago as I was going through my pipe racks to select a pipe to smoke, I stopped swirling the Lazy Susans when I got dizzy and right in front of me was an early production Tonino Jacono – he’s a long-time Italian pipe maker and a darned good one to boot – that was the first handmade pipe I ever purchased way back in the 1980’s, although the exact year of purchase escapes me at the moment. This is a photo of that pipe, not a particularly well grained piece but the rustication along the shank attracted me to it as I loved the contrast and still do. I had not smoked that pipe in several years and am not sure why. It had always smoked well. So, I pulled it out of the rack, loaded up a bowl with a favorite tobacco and had a wonderful smoke as I sat on the back patio of my home while drinking a margarita and being thankful that I didn’t live in a cold weather climate. I had purchased that Jacono during my first career as a college and NFL radio sports broadcaster, and as I smoked, I thought back to all the road trips I took all over the country with that handsome Jacono as my companion. Back then the smoking laws were slim and none, and there were many times when, after broadcasting a college football or basketball game (I have a face perfectly made for radio), I would go back to my hotel room, sit down and light up that pipe as I wound down.  What a great old friend! And I felt terrible for having neglected it for so long.

In the two weeks since rediscovering the outstanding smoking characteristics of that old Jacono, I’ve smoked it almost every day and will probably do so again for another couple of weeks before slowly easing off the peddle. After all, my Jacono is getting on in years and may need more rest than it used to. Kind of like me.

Happy puffing to all,

Steve