I can see you looking down at me shaking your head and wondering why anyone would try to sell this piece of junk. You pick me up and turn me over in your hands. You shake your head when you see the cake so thick that you can barely squeeze your small finger let alone any more tobacco into my bowl, don’t misunderstand. You see the edges of my rim beat up from being knocked on my head to remove the dottle at the end of a smoke, don’t misunderstand. You see my finish worn and thin on the sides of the bowl and soiled with oil and grit, don’t misunderstand. You see the gap between my stem and my shank with the ooze bubbling out in the gap, please don’t misunderstand. You see the end of my stem chewed, gnawed and almost unrecognizable, don’t misunderstand.
You see, I know that you look at me and see the damage and wear on my person, but do not negate the value I have just because you cannot see through the grime and the damage. The value I have is irrespective of the appearance I have at this moment in time. I was the beloved pipe of my pipeman. In fact I was his only pipe for so many years. I think that as he grew older and I grew older he could not see or feel the subtle changes that were occurring in my person. I was like a worn shoe; I fit well in his hand and brought respite and comfort as the warmth radiated from the burning tobacco. I well remember his caress as he rubbed the sides of my bowl as he drew the smoke into his mouth. I remember the oils of his nose as he rubbed the warm bowl against his nose to oil my briar.
Yes, you see the damage and easily write me off as a pipe that has outlived its usefulness. As if, all that remained for me was the scrap heap or the fireplace. But don’t sell me short. I am not the abused waif of a careless piper who did not give a lick for his pipe. I am not a forgotten and despised pipe sitting discarded after hard use. No. I am the proud deliverer of many a grand smoke. I am the favourite pipe of the pipeman who called me his own. I have travelled with him around the globe on his business, providing him with repeatedly good smokes. You see, my state is not a reflection of neglect at all, but rather the reflection of love and affection. It is not a reflection of abuse but of jealous love.
I wish I could shout out to you to give me a chance. Clean out my bowl and shank. Polish my briar and replace my stem. Refurbish me and give me a new breath of life. I would tell you of the many good years that remain in my briar. I would speak of the fact that I will outlive you if you bring me back to life. I would deliver a well seasoned smoke from the first bowl you load and light. But alas, I cannot speak in words that most people can hear. Or maybe they are just deaf to my words or have not learned the language of the pipe. Yes that’s it. It is not my problem, as can you can no doubt see, I am not at a loss for words. It has to be the problem of the listener. Do you hear me as you hold me? Can you sense my presence?
Ah, I must be getting through to you. I see a change in your expression. The creases around your eyes and the upturned corners of your mouth show a different face than earlier looked down upon me. What is that you are doing? You twist off my stem and give my shank a look. You run your hands over the stem itself looking at the extent of the damage there and assessing what needs to be done. You hold me up to the light and look through the grease and grime at the briar of my sides and top. You nod as you look. You do hear me. You see the fine lines and the good grain. You see the rich colours under the grit. You look into my bowl and not only do you see the cake but you see the remnant of tobacco in the bottom of the bowl. You sniff the smell and the grin on your face spreads. You appreciate the tobacco smells that fill your nostrils. Oh my, will you rescue me and take me home? Will you restore me to my former state? Oh I do hope so.
What’s this? You don’t put me back on the shelf. You don’t set me down. You carry me to the front of the store and the antique dealer takes your payment for me. My, was the cost only $12? You must have some idea of what I originally cost. You just got a bargain my friend. I hear the seller ask if you would like to have me wrapped and put in a bag. I hear you say no. You would rather carry me out in your hand. I think this new relationship shows some promise. Now let’s get home and get to work on me. I can’t wait until I look like I used to and I am delivering a grand smoke to you my new friend.
Thank you for not despising me. Thank you for understanding that beneath the grime and age is a living pipe that has much life left in it. Thank you for knowing that with minimal effort, truly just minimal effort, I can be restored to a life of usefulness that will last longer than you do my friend. Ah, I can’t wait to show you what you have found.
Steve Laug 14 February 2014