TAKING BACK OUR RIGHTS, ONE PUFF AT A TIME
Todd L. Platek
Gone are the days when a person could sit in his own home, workplace or car and smoke a pipe. Gone even are the not-so-distant days, in so many states, when restaurants, taverns and bars had smoking sections. Our children return home from elementary school to lecture us with the warning that daddy is not only bringing his own existence to an earlier end by smoking his cherished briar, but also recklessly endangering the health of everyone within nostrils’ distance of his accursed tobacco leaves aburning. Our wives smirk on the sidelines, emboldened by the current state of affairs and newly justified in turning up their noses at our fragrant pastime.
In these trying times of terrorist threats haunting us at every turn and a world economy in the thrashing throes of suffering that plagues us each day, the last thing we need is to be told that pipesmoking is our personal contribution to global catastrophe, not to mention our endangerment of the lives under the same roof. But the air is stirring with change, not only in the hallowed, marble-slick hallways of Washington, D.C., but also in my home. Because…I have a plan.
When we were first married, my wife adored the smell of a pipe. Thirty-one years later, she has promulgated and instituted ordinances prohibiting smoking inside the house, no matter whether windows are open or ceiling fans are spinning or smoke-neutralization contraptions are running at full speed. The garage is the sole enclosed area permitted for “on premises” smoking, else it’s the open air for me and my lovely briar friends.
In the ice-blue winter of 2008-09, when the temperature in the garage hovers around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, I will launch Operation Take-Back. No longer will pipe lighting be restricted to the deep freeze where the air slices skin like a metal-piercing laser. No pipes will be fired up on the front porch or back patio where even squirrels dare not venture during this bone-chilling season.
The basement office will be the first piece of territory to be recaptured. Whether basement windows will be opened while I imbibe the tangy essence of the lighted leaves will depend on my mood. I will soundproof the basement to deflect the anticipated verbal assaults from above-ground. By mid-winter, all non-smoking inhabitants above ground will have adjusted, lost their vocal power of objection, or evacuated. Of course, closely monitoring the situation, marshalling all developments, and exercising tactful mollification where efficacious will be essential to the success of this initial phase of the campaign. But it’s the long haul we’re in for, isn’t it? We must keep our eyes on the prize.
Upon the successful completion of the initial phase, I will advance my territorial objectives. My second-floor office in the house will be targeted for tobacconistic liberation. Gearing up for this phase will require extreme subtlety. I must not let my wife see me moving a full winter wardrobe into the room. At first, I’ll smoke with the door closed, a wet towel at its base and windows open with ceiling fan at its highest rotation to expel the silvery wisps of my treasured briars’ exhaust. A coat, hat and scarf will be requisites as I tend to catch cold easily under such repeated stress. Furthermore, I need to mitigate the aggravation my wife might imagine she experiences – we know it’s not actual aggravation, don’t we?! - inasmuch as she’s an excellent cook, holds down a fine day job and generally is a darling spouse. Very delicate, this pipesmoker-rights-reclamation business, you see. One wrong move and all my efforts could go up in smoke, so to speak. After a month of self-induced torture, I am confident that my wife’s antipathy to the pipe smoke will have thawed with the winter’s ice, and spring will bring a new beginning with the air inside the house as fragrant with my favorite mixtures as pine mountain breezes or the cherry blossoms in their full glory. With time, the very delight of sniffing the sweet smells of the pipe aflame, and knowing how happy it all makes her husband, will return the youthful smiles of yesteryear to her face.
With painstaking planning and exquisite execution - and 200% luck - this ambitious scheme just might work. I will, of course, need the coordinated participation of all my fellow pipesmokers throughout America, so that all of our wives collectively perceive the hopelessness of their protestations. Hearts and minds, gentlemen, we must conquer their hearts and minds by demonstrating to them how serious and loving and self-sacrificing we are in this mission, so that they willingly come around to appreciating, yes, not merely tolerating, our devotion to the briar and leaf. Can I count on you? Start chanting “Yes we can! Yes we can!” as you fill your pipes and dream of the freedom that awaits.
And please, for heaven’s sake, don’t leak a word of this to my wife, otherwise I’m in big trouble!