Monday, December 17, 2007

The Art of the Pipe

© By Albert A Rasch

“Oh, hi Dad.” Came his listless reply, “I’m looking for the broom; Mom wants us to clean.”

Occasionally I will indulge in a pipe. Whether an elegantly curved calabash, or a properly puritanical church warden, nothing allows for proper concentration and meditation like a pipe. The warmth of the bowl when a proper coal is set, the texture of pipe, the sweep of the stem, all of these things add to the immeasurable assurance that the answers are all there, if you take the time to contemplate. It is a campfire, with flannel shirts, tents, pine pitch, and split logs, all contained in the palm of your hand. It is truly a man’s artifice, requisite skill necessary in its proper application, without which deep and intractable issues can never be resolved.

Now, I know that today’s health conscious meddlers, those left-coast leaning, healthier than thou, sanctimonious, fancy sneakered jogging types, caution us constantly about the evils and ill effects of tobacco and strong spirits. To quote Sir Winston Churchill when castigated for indulging so frequently of both, “Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” I am one for personal responsibility - and I am quite secure in the knowledge that what I do may be injurious, but I am sure to derive the greater benefit for contemplating matters both weighty and of great import. That will surely outweigh any harm done to me. Hell, I’ve heard it said that if you refrain from the pleasures of the opposite sex and damn near starve yourself, you’ll live a good bit longer. You might as well shoot me now if you think I want to live like that. I’d just as soon live in Venezuela under Chavez; amount to about the same I venture.

As it so happened, on this cool, fall, Florida morning, I was contemplating matters of weighty magnitude whilst out on the patio, the occasional swirl of Sweet Cavendish smoke encircling me. I heard the door to the house open up and Bubby, sullenly muttering to himself, came out. Pulled from my reverie by his digging about, I turned an eye to him.

He had the sad and troubled look of a boy unfairly put upon. “Bubby,” I asked, “what the Devil are you up to?”

“Oh, hi Dad.” Came his listless reply, “I’m looking for the broom; Mom wants us to clean.” Oh dear God, not cleaning.

If there is one thing that I can’t abide is a woman’s penchant for ruining a perfectly good day. Here it was a lovely fall day, cooler than it has been for several sweltering months, a day put on this earth for repose and the proper contemplation of worldly matters. Why is that day to be filled with something as mundane as house cleaning? I mean really, come on, it’s just going to get messy again in matter of hours.

Very carefully I weighed my response. “Oh… Blake it’s a travesty.”

I had a couple of options at this point. I could run, but that would take up quite a bit of energy; energy that I was loath to expend. Quite frankly and in my opinion, running is vastly overrated; excepting of course those matters where running might save your hide. Running is for antelope, horses, and teenagers who don’t have the sense to think two steps further than where they are. I prefer slipping into and out of things; it’s the gentlemanly way to do things.

I could volunteer myself for said activity. Do I sound or look like I lack in intellect? Not a chance; volunteering would be asking for more trouble. Women are rather peculiar in that respect, as I will elucidate for your clarification and illumination. Observe:

Fight tooth and nail, and they take it in stride, point to what they want done, and leave you to it. It would seem that the act of defiance registers as a normal modus operandi in their internal mental circuitry. In their queer logic this is as it should be, therefore it requires no further action.

Now if you were to volunteer, they assume that you have some nefarious plan which can only be thwarted by their constant vigilance and frequent rebukes as to your relative ineptitude. Mind you, you’ve done whatever it is they want a thousand times before, but the way they slap a saddle on your back and spur your hind-quarters, you would think you were trying to deliver a baby with dirty hands, or patted the waitress’ rear-end at one of those fancy restaurants.

I sighed audibly. It is an immutable mathematical certainty that no matter what is done, one in fact ends up doing the opposite of what is wished for. I resigned myself to the inevitable and just waited upon my fate; there are worse things than helping to tidy up a bit. Like run through a patch of cactus… sunburned…and naked.

I was drawing upon the church warden when my dearest stepped out on to the patio. I let a long narrow stream of smoke slice its way through the morning air. The sweet smell of pipe tobacco clung to the cool damp like fog over a marsh. Thin tendrils of old smoke wafted through the occasional beam of sunlight that broke through the tree canopy.

“You know,” I said, “the Indigo Buntings are due any day now.”

“I love it when they come through.” She smiled and looked around. “When do you think they’ll get here?”

“I don’t know… With this global warming nonsense they might be a couple of weeks late.” I drew on my pipe, savored the smoke, and used the long stem as a pointer. “I’ve seen a few goldfinches though, by the creek; they were late come to think of it.”

We mused on that bit of information for a few moments.

Cristal placed her hand lightly on my shoulder. “You know, I was going to ask you to help clean up the house a bit. It’s such a wreck.”

I dutifully waited for the sentence to be handed down. Would it be mopping, folding clothes, or worse, scrubbing the bathtub.

“But, you look so thoughtful there, that I think I’ll leave you to your musings; you deserve a break.”

You could have knocked me over with a flick of the finger.

“Would you like a drink? Some water or a soda? “

“Uhh… no, no thanks, I’m doing pretty good.” I replied

She started to turn and I said, “Baby…”

“Yes?”

I was going to ask for a bourbon over ice, splash of spring water.

“Love Ya.”

She winked at me, and with that look said, “I know.”


4 comments:

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

you're so good! Another classic.
Happy crimbo
SBW

Kristine said...

O.k, that turned out differently than I was expecting. Rather sweet there at the end.

Phillip said...

Damn nicely written, Albert!

How appropriate that your choice of graphic support (the back ground for your pipe) was Ruark.

Albert A Rasch said...

Thanks guys, I appreciate the nice notes.

Phillip,
Nicely noted!
Ruark made his money writing on the society pages after WWII. His main impetus was the place of women in society. It was a reaction to the social upheaval caused by the war. It wasn't until a bit later that he got to Africa and wrote "Something of Value", "Uhuru" and his other works.

Regards,
Albert A Rasch