The old souls and newbie smokers alike that frequent the Pipes Magazine forum hear these two acronyms thrown around quite a bit: P.A.D. and T.A.D. Every once in a while, someone who is blissfully ignorant of these two acronyms asks what they stand for.
I am envious of those people because they have not contracted either of these horrible, horrible afflictions, these crippling diagnoses that will most likely affect your personal life, your work schedule, your income, and most importantly, your free time and sanity.
OK, I may be over-exaggerating, but any of us in the briar brotherhood who knows what these letters stand for and the “illnesses” they represent will recognize that itch we can’t scratch, that thirst we can’t quench, and that hunger we can’t quell.
OK, so there are probably some new guys reading this and yelling, “Just tell us what this stands for already!” Here goes: P.A.D.=Pipe Acquisition Disorder. T.A.D.= Tobacco Acquisition Disorder. There are many other facets of our hobby that you could slap an -AD on the end of and call it an Acquisition Disorder: Cigars, Snuff, Humidors, Pipe Rack, Pipe Accessory, Pipe Cleaner, Pipe Pouch, etc. For those of us who are really hardcore, you might come down with “Something to Keep All This Damn Tobacco In” Acquisition Disorder, but let’s face it, that acronym looks a little funny.
These two conditions are defined very simply: by buying and owning way more pipes and tobaccos than any one sane human being should own. So how do you contract these terrible maladies? How do you come down with the fever that only briar and ‘baccy can cure? The short answer is: Take a pipe, fill it with tobacco, smoke, repeat. Most people who stick with the hobby for longer than a few months will acquire one or both of these conditions. That being said, both disorders can be explained in different ways.
The reason that we as smokers strive to collect so many pipes is because, in short, they are extremely collectible. Different brands, shapes, different grains, rusticated or smooth, different colors of finishes, different sizes of chambers, different stem materials, the possiblities are practically endless. Some people collect pipes by country of origin, some collect by shape, some by carver, some by stem material, some collect all rusticated, some collect all smooth, some people have collections of nothing but pipes that they have carved themselves. The number of quality briar pipes being offered on the market today is almost as staggering as the number of tobaccos, and it is one of the things that makes the hobby so exciting. We strive to have that perfect shape, the perfect hunk of briar, the perfect curve in the stem, the perfect rustication pattern, and hunting down your favorite pipe is only half the fun. You then get to look forward to breaking it in, building a cake, figuring out which tobacco you are going to dedicate to that pipe, and the number of years of enjoyment that you will get out of it. Also, it helps to have a variety of pipes to smoke from so that they are well cared for and not overused, whether you have 10 pipes or 100 pipes, so the sickness is not only engaging but is highly justifiable in that one more pipe means that you have another pipe that has a chance to rest and not get over used, or at least, that’s what you’ll try to say to convince your wife.
Tobacco Acquisition Disorder is another interesting beast, and it too has its own set of causes. As I said before, the number of pipe tobacco manufacturers and blends on the markey today makes my head spin, and not in some weird, Exorcist kind of way, but in a way that I can never make up my mind as to what I want to smoke. A simple explanation for Tobacco Acquisition Disorder is found in another pipe smoking tradition: Cellaring. Pipe tobaccos have been known to age very well, and I know for a fact that the amount of tobacco that I order at one time is going to be far more than I can smoke until my finger gets a little itchy and I lose sense of space and time and all of a sudden the credit card company is calling me and asking if these charges are legitimate. I do go on pipe tobacco buying benders, but I have peace of mind because I know that the tobacco can sit for weeks, months, or even years, and as long as it’s properly stored, when I do get around to smoking it, it will be even better than it would have been if I had ripped it open right when it got in my mailbox. Also, with the ease of storing large amounts of bulk tobaccos, and the current great prices on both bulk and tins alike, it is easy to see why we can become total tobacco hoarding mad men.
So what are the symptoms of these two terrible, virulent forces? That is simple: Looking around at all the pipes in your pipe rack, or looking into your cellar, and telling yourself that it is not enough. In reality, it may never be enough. I often walk into my local B&M and see a new pipe that I, despite what my girlfriend will tell me, just CANNOT live without. In reality, I have no more room on my pipe racks for pipes, and I have no more room for more racks, so a new pipe is out of the question. But the urge, the itch, that tingle in my brain is still there. “This pipe will be mine. I don’t care if I have to put another pipe in a drawer to make room for it in the rack. I must have it.” In all reality, this last thought is really cruel. Never put your pipes in a drawer. They deserve more respect than that…well, unless it’s made of Brylon. Then maybe it can be forgiven.
The same goes for tobacco. I am currently sitting at around 10 tins that are 3.5 ounces each, and about 20 tins of tobacco that are 2 ounces each, plus a smattering of various amounts of bulk blends. Two ounces takes me roughly two weeks to smoke, so if you do the math…OK, so I never really was good at math, but that is enough tobacco to last me for months, and then some. Yet I still keep buying it, because unlike pipes, I do have room to store it, and even after I don’t have room to store it anymore, I will probably still buy more. I read the description of a blend and imagine how it will taste, and the excitement that comes with cracking that tin and loading up that first bowl. I buy Latakias, Burley, Virginias, Aromatics, and even drugstore mixtures. Some blends I buy specifically to cellar, others I just crack open whenever I feel like it. To reiterate once more, the number of blends that we have access to is almost never ending, and every time I turn the corner I hear of yet another new blend that just might tickle my fancy.
So how do you cure your PAD and TAD? At what point will you never buy another pipe or tobacco tin ever again? For anyone who reads this, that answer is probably either going to be “NEVER!” or “When I’m dead!”, and for the most part, I would probably agree with you. As for me: I can’t see myself realistically buying another pipe any time in the near future. I have amassed some 40 odd pipes in my 9 months that I have been back on pipe smoking. I have pipes for Burley and Viriginias, pipes for Englishes, and pipes for Aromatics. I have all manner of shapes, sizes, makers, and even a could of hand-carved pipes. I am quite happy with my collection and would not be heartbroken if my collection doesn’t go past what it is right now. As far as tobaccos? Well that’s another matter entirely. There are so many blends that I haven’t tried, want to try, and love so much that I want to order more of, that I don’t see my TAD being cured any time soon. So we may never cure these afflictions completely, but if we remain enthusiastic about our hobby and keep the antis off our backs, we can take two big chunks of briar, wash it down with a teaspoon of tobacco, and call the doctor in the morning. He’ll tell us that we may not be cured, but we’re doing just fine, and maybe we should take another day off work just to be sure.