The Pipe : Extraordinary Ordinary Things

I hate smoking. I have since I was growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s. At that time, a sure sign that one had passed from childhood to adulthood was smoking. At about the age of 10, I decided to get a preview of what would soon be coming my way. So I stole a cigarette from my father, hid behind the garage, lighted up—and nearly coughed my lungs out. I quickly decided that adults were crazy. This was my first cigarette and my last cigarette; I never saw any reason for trying again.

But to be clear, when I say that I am implacably opposed to smoking, I mean only cigarettes. This is because most people I know who smoke cigarettes seem to be addicted to them, puffing away 20, 30, and even 40 of the filthy weeds a day.

However, I don’t feel the same way about cigars and pipes. Why? Because as a child I knew a man who every evening after dinner would sit himself down in a big comfortable chair, take out his pipe, and light up. The look that came over his face when he took that first puff was a joy to behold. He smoked only one pipeful a day and truly enjoyed it. It wasn’t an addictive habit, but rather pure, unadulterated delight.

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