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It Can Be Hard To Explain Our Hobby

(23 posts)
  • Started 8 months ago by carolinachurchwarden
  • Latest reply from kola
  1. carolinachurchwarden

    carolinachurchwarden

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    I was perusing the websites the other night while lying in bed, trying to come up with a holiday mixture that I'd like to try. I have a small collection of tobacco already. Stuff I've been sent to try and samples, stuff I've bought on word of mouth or just single baggies filled with about an ounce of stuff I thought smelled great after stopping in to a new establishment. When she asked me what I was searching for, I told her I was looking for a holiday blend. She asked me if I already had some things like that and I told her not yet. Made me think of a guy and his wife in the tobacco shop I visited over the weekend. I over heard him explaining the differences between the tobaccos he had and the one he wanted when she threw out the inevitable "Don't you have enough tobacco already?" I cringed. Now I have enough to last me several months, but I'm still figuring out what I like. I want to pin it down to just a few blends that I know I'll never tire of, stock up on them, and buy the occasional tin of this or that when I want something different. My wife gets it, understands the process I'm working through and never says things like that to me. Mostly because we had the discussion early on and I used her crochet hobby as an example. She always wants new yarn for this, or for that, and I never say a word. Mostly because I want her to enjoy her hobby, so I'll never say a word against it. It works just as well as a reason for her to let me enjoy mine.

    That got me to thinking a bit. I sometimes find it difficult to explain to people about our hobby when they ask. They think it's odd to want 10-15 different blends to store and have on hand for those days when something disappears, but you have some and can enjoy it and smoke what you like, even when it's out of production. They tend to think that all tobaccos are the same and there's not a lot of difference between them. They can't relate when you tell them you own this many pipes and never quite understand why you like this pipe for flake tobacco, or that pipe for certain aros. They don't understand why you want more than one pipe. Trying to explain it to people that don't get it can be frustrating, especially when they're trying their best to actually understand. Then I thought about the things I don't understand about others and the things they enjoy and discovered I'm just as guilty at times, but I do at least try and don't look down my nose at them like some people do to me over my pipes. I'm very lucky I have a wife that understands. Well that's my daily thought, time to go back to work.

    "If you can't send money, send tobacco." - George Washington

    Posted 8 months ago #
  2. chasingembers

    Embers

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    My wife will surprise me with different tobaccos and coworkers enthusiastically stop by to smell which tobacco I am smoking today. Just ask people if they like eating the same thing for every meal.

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 8 months ago #
  3. warren

    warren

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    I stick, pretty much, to five tried and true blends. I'm not a fan of surprises so only rarely try something new in either pipes or blends. I don't smoke as a diversion or a hobby. I have a "comfort zone" with pipes and tobacco, I tend to say in it.

    My wife knew to never gift me blends, pipes, photo equipment or tools.

    A man without a shillelagh is a man without an expedient.
    Posted 8 months ago #
  4. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    I recall Henry Ford's explanation to reporters when he was caught in a compromising situation:

    "Don't complain; don't explain."

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 8 months ago #
  5. carolinachurchwarden

    carolinachurchwarden

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    I stick, pretty much, to five tried and true blends.

    This is what I want to do. I just have to find and determine what those are for me. I'm trying to work through that now.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  6. mso489

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    I spent part of my career helping scientists explain their esoteric work in plain English. Some totally needed my help to translate their scientific/technical language. They simply couldn't say things in plain English. They never thought about it except in scientific terms and often in quantitative terms. Some mistrusted language altogether. It provided me a middle class living. Some scientists, however, were Renaissance men and women and could speak to nearly any audience, watch their faces, and raise or lower the difficulty of the discussion until understanding showed in their eyes. Same thing with pipes. Find a point of interest or common ground. Pipes from different nations usually sparks some interest. The names of different shapes. A quick walk through different kinds of tobacco. But it has to be brief and chatty, with no special vocabulary. If you slip and say "Cavendish," follow up with a brief definition -- not a type of tobacco but a way of processing it -- and move on. No one wants to labor at this, so pursue it only as a game or sport. Perfect a few jokes to throw in. Do a little impersonation with one pipe or another -- be Sherlock or an actual church warden. If you are interested in telling that person or audience about it, you may actually generate some interest with them. People loved it when they felt they had actually learned something about science.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  7. paulie66scandinavian

    Paul

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    I'm pretty much same way as Mr Warren , five blends or so and if more then it's within my preferred tobacco genres with our Eu prices and tough customs rules there's not much room left for 'playing around'and surprises

    Paul The Scandinavian'
    Posted 8 months ago #
  8. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    There are commonalities with all people who are into collecting. The specifics may be different but the instincts are similar. Yesterday I was at lunch with a friend and my son, and my friend asked me if I was still pursuing my pipe related activities. He asked me about how many pipes I owned, then why I owned so many. He asked about tobaccos and then why I had so much of it. There was no judgement, just curiosity. My son, who thinks smoking of any sort is unhealthy, chimed in about how he can't open a closet without smelling tobacco. That reminds me, I have to get to sealing up a bunch of tins in Mylar, but that's another conversation.

    Anyway, I used both my friend's and my son's collecting habits to bridge the gap. My son collects comics art, original pencils and inks. My friend, who is an art director, collects books on artists. So by discussing what pleasures they derive from their collections, what they would like to add, etc., they were better able to understand my collecting pipes.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 8 months ago #
  9. npod

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    The longer I am involved with the hobby, the easier it gets to explain to others. One day I just woke up and owned the fact that I love this hobby and it means something to me. Since then I have stopped trying to "explain" my interest to nonsmokers. I now discuss how much I love it and the great friendships and the travel and the shows. I believe people can genuinely sense your excitement if you step up and speak freely. If not, then it is not meant to be.

    At the Chicago show this year, there was a group of young professors sitting at the couch. An art historian, a political scientist, and a humanities guy. They were generally awe struck that I am in the medical field and freely admit to smoking a pipe. They wanted solid "arguments" that they could use to justify their hobby to colleagues and other in their social circles. They went on and on about how they are embarrassed to admit they like smoking a pipe, that friends at parties argue with them, that they are talked about behind their backs, and "what should we do, what can we say?" My advise was, just own it! If you are embarrassed, then you have doubt yourself. If you have doubt, then ask yourself why. You need to be comfortable in your own skin instead of walking around with a list of arguments and quips and quotes to fire back. However, I recommend discussing this with a soft voice, a proud voice, a confident voice. The majority of people will never get it and will judge, and the country is against us. Heck, smoking used to be conformist, now we are the nonconformists.

    Neal
    Posted 8 months ago #
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    bigpond

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    Hey, you could always take out some chaw and a cup. Spit that crap around for a week and folks will be begging you to pick up your pipe again. Also, have you tried the silk pajamas and smoking jacket yet?

    Posted 8 months ago #
  11. ravkesef

    ravkesef

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    I’ve been at it for nearly 59 years and every so often my wife of nearly 40 years will ask me if the different pipes really taste different. And do I really need so many of them. And if my stash of tobaccos are really all that different. And do I expect to live long enough to smoke through them. And right now I have my eyes on a Dr. Bob’s Hawkbill. I started smoking a pipe when it was the cool thing to do, and now, like so many of you, I have to explain my hobby to the Philistines. Now if God will only grant me the years to smoke through my stash...

    Eric
    Posted 8 months ago #
  12. winton

    winton

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    Everyone has some things that are important to them, that others wonder about. On the night of my boss's wedding, the whole party went barhopping. That was not how I spent my wedding night.

    When I talk about smoking pipes, I mention the opportunity to sit still and think, the look / feel of the pipe, the company of other pipe smokers, the opportunity to talk to others, the taste of the tobacco . . . .

    Posted 8 months ago #
  13. warren

    warren

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    In a bar, no smoking type, I order two beers immediately. The first emptied gets the label torn off, that's the spittoon for the evening. A chaw will keep the riff-raff at a distance almost as well as a glowing cigar, inches from their nose.

    The only down side to the pipe in public, for me, is that some see it as an open invitation to start a conversation. It's almost as annoying as someone intruding when I'm working behind a camera, "What ya seeing?" "Is that a Nikon/Canon?" "What settings should I use?" "Is that bear coming this way?" "Where'd you go?" "That bear is coming this way! Crap!"

    A bark and growl usually fixes the problem.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  14. workman

    workman

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    IME most people who ask about it do not ask out of real curiosity, but more as a clumsy ping in a smalltalk pingpong. They expect and get a short answer like, yeah, it's a wonderful thing, you should try it, or something like that, and then you change subject.
    The few times I have spoken to someone who tries to understand it, they immediately do. It isn't very complicated.

    Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics.
    Posted 8 months ago #
  15. litup

    litup

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    I must have selfish friends because it's extremely rare that anyone asks me about pipes and tobacco so I don't have a chance to explain anything to them.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  16. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    My GF/SO/OAFW used to breed Mainecoons and show them. Whenever she launches into the finer points of cat markings blood lines, etc, I retaliate by talking about Barling nomenclature and other vintage Britwood esoterica. Works like a charm.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  17. mso489

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    If you have a lot of pipes, and you want to talk about them to a non-pipe-smoker. pick out three or four with visible differences and talk about those. The person doesn't want a degree in the subject, they just want to hear something interesting to them.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  18. daveinlax

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    I don't even try. I'm as passionate and active a collector as anyone here but the outside world knows me a cigar smoker.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  19. 5star

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    Hmmmm . . . I’ve never actually had anyone ask me about the details of pipe smoking. Well, that’s not exactly correct. One woman fondly remembered watching her father smoke a pipe when she was a little girl. Back then, she was fascinated by the process he employed, and had loved the aroma. So I briefly explained preparing the tobacco, lighting, tamping, etc. to her. - - I have had people compliment the aroma of a blend I was smoking, but this is the limit of discussion that I’ve had with non pipe smokers on the topic.

    "You are remembered for the rules you break." - General Douglas MacArthur
    Posted 8 months ago #
  20. lifesizehobbit

    lifesizehobbit

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    If someone asks me about my pipes, it's an appreciation of the artistry, shape and texture. I like to relate them to Hotwheels or Matchbox - sure they're very much alike, but distinct on their own and fun to collect.

    If someone asks me about tobacco's, I try to relate it as being similar to those who collect wines. Different wineries, grapes, vintage, crops, etc. And who doesn't love a great label?

    Pipe on brethern - about 2-3 more months before I can light my first bowl post dental implants.

    Dave "Black Frigate Stowaway"
    Posted 8 months ago #
  21. bnichols23

    Bill

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    "ask people if they like eating the same thing for every meal." -- That, & Jesse's idea of a collection bridge, Duane. Or like my Hawaiian shirts, all different, & usually reflective of my mood on a given day.

    Lots of other good pieces of advice in the thread too, but the main thing is what you said -- Variety.

    Head Black Frigate keelhauler, boss powder monkey, & troublemaker 1st class.
    Posted 8 months ago #
  22. luigi

    luigi

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    I accepted that for the vast majority of people pipe smoking is just smoking a tobacco in a pipe instead of rolling a cigarette or take one out of the pack. Those who show more interest with questions get answers but almost nobody can understand, so I stopped explaining how latakia and perique are produced, a simple "yeah, I smoke tobacco in a pipe" works better. Some friends want to try and get a tongue bite or cough while inhaling. I don't consider smoking a big virtue so I don't encourage it but who is ready to take responsibility for eventual health problems and wants to smoke as little aditives as possible, pipes are a great way to go.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  23. kola

    kola

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    I don't say much, just smile and change topic. I mostly smoke by myself anyway. I get tired of the "what's in that pipe dude?" ...as if it's weed. yawn.

    I treat people the way they treat me. It's that simple.
    Posted 8 months ago #

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