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A Pocket Archive (6)

October 21, 2022

Learning to smoke a pipe today. It's peppery, like eating around a campfire. It's not the first time I've tried smoking a one, but it's the first time that I've had to pack and light one myself.  They don't taste the way they smell, but I still felt cool- almost wizardy, or like I was in the Shire. Not very feminine, but it was something I always wanted to learn to do, mostly for my writing, but also out of general cUriosity. It's nice not having to worry what anyone thinks.

I wondered whether the plant on top of the refrigerator was real.  If it was, I felt sorry for it. It would be a laughable attempt at combating the pleasantly polluted air of the cigar lounge, which hung in the air like a thick yellow blanket, Roiling and swirling lazily beneath the humming fluorescent lights. It made my eyes sting and I regretted wearing the soft green hoodie that I'd just washed. Next to the fridge was a low table with a dusty coffee pot and an assortment of napkins and disposable cups. A small shop vacuum peeked out from underneath the the edge of the table, but it didn't seem like it was used very often. And yet, the room felt orderly and comfortable.

The walls of the lounge are dark, like rich chocolate, giving the room a cozy, almost sleepy atmosphere rather than one that felt cramped or claustrophobic. On one hung frames containg various paper cigar bands (were they expensive or something?), a vintage red clock with a cloudy plastic face, and several posters for local sports teams, all yellowing and discolored from from the smoke. The ceiling tiles fared little better. There was a stack of empty boxes behind the door that led to the shop area, and the dark wooden floorboards were scratched from years of furniture being dragged across them. Why does this place make me think of home?

Not much to say about the choice of entertainment flickering on the flatsceen tvs. It's cheesy humor/classic horror. What or who is Svengoolie?? It explains a lot about my friend's sense of humor.

In the center of the room are several nice wooden tables- the kind you can play cards at comfortably. Innumerable ashtrays of various heights and sizes dotted the room and worn, glossy leather sofas lined the perimeter. They looked dangerously comfortable, and a large black dog was curled up on one, his tail wagging hopefully whenever anyone made eye contact. He's a very handsome dog, definitely part boxer.

Much frustration over passwords for a smart TV.  My friend passes me a glass filled with scotch and I give it an Experimental sniff. It's expensive, and instantly makes me think of my friends, Christopher and his Wife Thao in Laramie, and the evenings Mavka and I spent hanging out at their house. I miss them.

I try again to light the pipe. The sailor lit the first two for me. He never comments, but his eyes twinkle and I can tell he's laughing at me. "Character development" as he calls it. It feels like a bad dad joke, but I'm glad he doesn't make fun of my writing. I hope my characters appreciate the effort I put in for them. Medieval pipes were probably clay and very different than this one, but with the prevalence of pipe smokers in high fantasy, I doubt my readers will care. But I'm determined to get this right.

I start again: pack the pipe, tamp it down. Test for airflow, pack, test, and repeat. Hold a match near the bowl and suck in little breaths of air while it catches. Let it burn, tamp it out, repack, relight. Rinse and repeat. It's Kind of relaxing and frustrating at the same time. I give up and steal my friend's lighter. Success; it's lit.

I close my eyes. Maybe I can pretend I'm in the shire, about to go on some grand unexpected adventure. Maybe I can be somewhere other than here, even if just for a little while. Breathe in, breathe out. It feels good to escape.

It goes out again. I re-light it, only to realize later I've burned my tongue. Perhaps this is what being a dragon is like. Do dragons ever burn their tongues? The thought makes me chuckle.

Salami and cheese taste really nice after smoking. I will have to remember that for future reference.

I think, perhaps, I like this.


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