Friday, December 11, 2009

That Beautiful Taste

There is so much that I love about pipe smoking. I love the fact that it is contemplative, the idea that it is an excuse to sit still for a bit. I also love that it is permanent. I think of cigars and cigarettes and the fact that when you are done you have to throw the whole thing away, for me, takes away from the art of it. With a pipe (even an inexpensive pipe) it seems that you are dealing with a work of art, something that has an inherent beauty of its own that provides pleasure almost as a side note. But the thing that has struck me most recently is the thing that I would imagine would be first on many lists: the taste!

I have had very few tobaccos that I could not appreciate. I love the taste of strong, full bodied, latakia blends. I love the spicy periques. I love sweet mild Virginia tobaccos and those nutty burleys. Most of the time I can even appreciate a nice bowl of something with a lighter casing (topping). I don't like cherry, ever. But I have enjoyed a light chocolate, vanilla or rum flavor when the mood is right, even if it is a bit monotone! It only occurred to me recently how carnal pipe smoking is. I had always set this habit apart as a slightly "higher" taste. I thought that it had a nobility to it that should be noted. The more I smoked, however, the more I realized that it is not much different than a person having an affinity for peppermint. Or a child who really likes Runts candy (bananas, strawberries, oranges - yes; lemons, limes - no) and has preferences. I'm not sure that the two passions are that far separated. It doesn't make me want to enjoy a pipe any less, but it is funny to think that if you take all of the verbiage away it seems like a bunch of grown men going, "I really like licorice much more than caramel. But then Hershey's chocolate is always my standby." That just seems funny to me!

That being said, as much as I like the taste at the moment (and I very much do!), I also enjoy how the ghost of the taste returns at the oddest moments. Just sitting in a conversation and all the sudden the tongue passes over the teeth and the sweet taste of the smoke you had a few hours ago returns. Just faint enough that you would have to grasp to remember what tobacco you were smoking. Then you remember. It's like your mouth told you a little secret that is not worth sharing with the person you are talking to, but makes for a nice grin and recollection that there was a moment of peace today...a moment when something just smelled and tasted good, and it calls to you again.

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