Ask Hank 7: Gorgeous Curves

A. Miller
There is an election happening.
I know about it because all the news I see is either about the upcoming president, or a long-dead founding father named Hamilton.

There are two things I find difficult to believe about all of this:

1) There are people in this world who would rather have all the stresses of running this country than a beach house in Florida and a large tobacco collection.

2) There is a such a thing as a founding father who could have sat through a 2 hour and 45 minute musical without smoking a pipe.

But alas, I am neither in to politics nor theatre. Complaining about this does make me feel old, but I do find myself wondering how different it would be if only the news could get better…. and these crazy kids could stay off my lawn.

Now, lets get down to business.

Dear Hank,

I’ve been a pipe smoker for a number of years now and I’ve only found three pipes that I’ve truly fallen in love with. My collection is larger than that because I feel like I should own more than three pipes. But I only really smoke those three.

Now, admittedly, I live in rural Ohio and don’t have a lot of opportunity to see pipes in real life. But I want that to change. How do I find more pipes I’ll fall in love with?

Entirely too few pipes outside Columbus.

Dear Entirely too few pipes in Ohio,

I read an article recently that said a surprisingly high percentage of women fell in love with men that they knew personally. In fact it approaches something like 100%.

After spending some time (about three bowls of time) mulling it over, I think this also applies to pipes. The likelihood of us falling in love with the pipe that we’ve never seen is extremely low. In my brief research for this article, I found it also approaches an extreme—0%.

So I would highly advise that you get out there and see all the pipes you can see. There are amazing pipes with beautiful grain, styles of rustication you’ve never seen, shapes you couldn’t imagine with gorgeous curves you’ll love every 1/4 inch of. There is bamboo, and vulcanite, metal and lucite. There are browns, greens, incredible paintings, and did I mention masterful carvings? Dragons, and dragon claws, mosquitoes and bulldogs. The world of pipes is so diverse, you could spend your whole life looking, and never see them all.

Don’t just see them either. Take the opportunity to smoke all the pipes you can smoke, your other pipes will not be jealous (there is a good chance they won’t even know).

There are factory pipes you have yet to discover. There are artisan pipes that will blow your mind. There are new methods for drilling, chambering, and even spiraled bubble-gum flavored bits that will surprise you.

Now if you truly must see them in person (and online just wont do it), purchase two pounds of a cheap latakia flake and have it shipped to your rural home. Purchase a few gold-colored lunch bags off of Amazon. Then post on the forums that you have come across a large collection of aged penzance. Offer to share this treasure if people bring their entire pipe collection to your house for you to admire.

The beauty of this is, Penzance is just scarce enough, most of them will have no idea if what you have is the real thing or not. Plus, you’ve claimed it’s aged. No one knows what aged Penzance tastes like. If you play your cards right, you might even be able to trade a few ounces for a pipe or two.

If you need more ideas, I’m full of wisdom and you know where to find me.

Only swindling those friends of mine with beautiful pipes,

Dear Hank,

I made the mistake of forgetting to carry over the life insurance I had purchased through my employer after I left my last job. As a result I’m buying new life insurance and they’re asking me all kinds of questions about my lifestyle and smoking habits. How do I navigate this delicate situation? Why are these people lumping pipe smokers in with cigarette smokers?

Help needed,
Paying premiums in Birmingham.

Dear Paying premiums in Birmingham,

As your very-legal lawyer I cannot advise you to consider insurance fraud. However, if you whisper the idea in my ear as an option as though you came up with the idea, I believe I’m covered by something like Doctor-Patient confidentiality. I’ll have to check my reference books, but it’s somewhere in “Practicing Law Without Passing the Bar,” by Stevens, Stevens, Stevens, and McStevens if I recall correctly.

You should also take note almost all of the questions an insurance company will ask you are related to tobacco and nicotine specifically. With a wink wink and nudge you’ll take note that there are other leaves your Barling or Boswell can smoke just fine. Sure some people will look down their noses at you, but the insurance companies have already done that. As long as your pipe is briar and not glass, few will ever ask questions. It’ll still be smoke, it’ll still be fire, and it’ll still burn slow and smooth. I think we both know what leafy substance I’m talking about….Kinnikinnick.

Latakia smokers will find the campfire aroma comforting, if a little different from what they’re used to.

On another note you’re right that it’s unfair they lump us in with cigarette smokers and charge us premiums as though we’ll ever die. I tell my kids that cigarettes are for people who aren’t tough enough to smoke a pipe. But as I write this out, I’m thinking the insurance companies won’t find that helpful though.

When it comes time to pee in the cup, use a little trick my Great Aunt Nellie taught me: make a mess. That way the nurse doing the test is more likely to toss the cup than care what’s in it. Also, always remember, when asked about your smoking habits, to state emphatically, “I am NOT a cigarette smoker.” Unless you are, then use two or three NOTs for added emphasis.

Insurance fraud is a game, er… a crime… er… something something are you in good perique-stained hands?,

Dear Hank,

All of my friends are off at the Chicago Pipe Show and I’m home alone. Not only could I not afford to attend, I wouldn’t have been able to afford any of the goodies available. Any suggestions for passing the time in less misery than I’m in right now?

Always and forever,
Lonely, smoking alone, and finding it lonesome in Los Angeles

Dear Lonely, smoking alone, and finding it lonesome in Los Angeles,

Always and forever? I’ll admit you’ve made me uncomfortable.

I think the obvious answer is that you should get rich and then get to Chicago next year. Think you can do that?

Well… Don’t think. Just do.

When you’re rich next year you can walk around with your friends and every time they make eye contact with a pipe or a tobacco you can swoop in and buy it up before they get the chance. Repeatedly claim your innocence, refuse to share, and be a general pain in the rear.

This process will have the added benefit that you’ll no longer have such friends if you were ever to lose your fortune and be stuck at home again. Jealousy problem solved!

Alternatives to passing the time by dreaming of being awesome by next year include:

1) Buying the world’s smallest toenail clippers and spending a full day on each toe. It will be irritating at first, but it will help pass the time. Bonus, save the shavings and mix them in to your friend’s favorite blends in their absence.

2) Speed-smoke through your friend’s pipes while they’re gone, getting them as hot as you can while trying all of their tobaccos. The focus here is on cracking pipes, not truly enjoying them.

3) Watch too much golf (especially if you don’t care about golf), while eating too many Cheetos in the lower cabin on a yacht for the week. Then brag to your friends when they return that you went yachting.

4) Spend the week on Youtube learning about every possible pipe-packing method. Then create your own, film it, post it to Youtube, and name the method after yourself. The Billy method (er, whatever your name is—assuming it isn’t Frank). Next comes the hard part, but also the most important part—talk about nothing else for the next five years.

One of those ought to do it.

Remember… your friends are being unfaithful to you by not bringing you along. You owe them literally nothing (except for the settlement money you really will owe them after they sue you for some of the above).

As a reminder, the easiest way to achieve your dreams is to put a quarter in a jar every time you smoke a pipe. You’ll have enough set aside for Chicago by next year.

The man who never gets jealous of others, their pipes, their attending the Chicago Pipe Show, or any of that crap I totally don’t care about, like for
real everyone, I mean it,

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