It’s a rare sight these days, someone smoking a pipe. If you’d been sitting on my shoulder a few weeks ago, though, that’s exactly what you’d have seen. A drifting dome of smoke and, somewhere underneath, a bedraggled young bloke chugging away at a churchwarden.
And it wasn’t one of your blunt, British-bomber-squadron kind of briars either; rather something resembling half a handlebar moustache gone wrong. Bent to buggery, it was, like a saxophone. Boy, that cat was burning up the scales.
Pretty wild vision, huh? So wild, perhaps, that it might simply have been a pipe dream – is that what you’re suggesting? Well, as I was office-ensconced at the time, anything’s possible. I do one-handed work, you see, which leaves a lobe free to roam the busy street below or, if things come to a pretty pass, to romp like a rabbit through time and space.
Too wild, as my four-year-old son would say.
Real or otherwise, that bloke and his briar took me back to my own pipe-sucking days. The past, it seemed, was sending up smoke signals, drawing me back. Years ago, in high school, I’d had big plans. First, I was going to buy an old car, rip off its roof, fill its back seat with soil, and grow flowers. Then, presumably, I was going to cruise the streets, the proud captain of some kind of vehicular vase.
I’d do things differently now, of course. I’d grow vegetables instead of blooms. Form follows function these days.
Later, after washing my hands, I was going to get me a pipe. Oh, yeah.
Pipes denote personality, you see, and personality is something I’ve always wanted. Motorcycles are the same, but I never got a bike much more than I never got a pipe. I blame my parents for this, of course, since they threatened to insert such devilish devices into a pipe of a different kind – my exhaust pipe – if I was ever caught in possession. Thus did my quest for a pipe-driven personality go up in smoke.
I’ll leave you with a lame lament about women’s skirts, because these groin-concealing garments are something else I’m seeing a lot of through my work window at the moment, it being summer and all. Or not seeing a lot of, to be more precise. And that’s my point: hemlines seem to be scaling new heights.
Soon I won’t have to exercise my imagination at all in public, and that’s a bit of a bummer. For what we’re witnessing here is – yes, you guessed it – a reprehensible race to the bottom.