Let’s take a moment to talk about stereotypes, shall we? Specifically, let’s talk about pipe smoking stereotypes. Let’s be honest, when we think of pipe smokers, we have an image that comes to mind. Maybe it’s a family member who smoked a pipe, or perhaps its an old timey sailor chomping on his Dublin in a storm. For me, it’s a tweedy professor with a billiard in hand, espousing some esoteric knowledge.
When we think of pipe smokers, we think of us as calm, rational people who take things slow and look at life around us. These, whether we want to admit it or not, are stereotypes. We take pride in our hobby, and how the public perceives us (well, besides the anti’s). There’s nothing wrong necessarily with these images. In fact, when I smoke a pipe and I’m in public, I try to mirror these images for the sake of perpetuating it.
Yet there is a darker side to our stereotypes, as hard as it is to believe. What is that stereotype you ask? Well, we can seem to come across as pretentious.
Gasp. (You can’t see me right now, but I’m looking to the left and right to me to see if anyone read that.)
Yes, it’s true. We can look pretentious to those who have not been inducted into the pipe illuminati. There’s an air of snobbery that can linger in our pipe smoke. Maybe it’s because when we smoke a pipe, we’re enjoying our time, and that can appear snobby. If that’s the case, then there’s nothing I’m going to do to change that. If I’m having a pipe, then I’m enjoying it.
But it can also come across in how we talk. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like talking about pipes. When I talk about smoking a pipe, I’m going to use the most flowery language I can, because it’s a hobby that’s close to my heart. When I smoke my pipe, I’m transported into another world, the world of the past. My pipe has me under its spell when I perform the comforting rituals of packing, lighting, and tamping— see there I go with the flowery praise like I’m writing a poem. Bad writer, bad!
What bothers me, and is the crux of this post, is the air of superiority that can come with pipe smoking. Yes, we know the secret of enjoyment that comes with smoking a pipe, but that doesn’t make us better than non-pipe smokers. This is especially true when interacting with other smokers.
I’ll be honest, I have no interest in smoking other than pipes. Cigars, cigarettes, hookahs, even vaping (yes, I know it’s not technically smoking, but I’m putting it here), I’ve looked down on it all before. But just because I care for them, doesn’t mean I’m better than them. This is especially true with my cigar bretheren. Just because I don’t care for cigars, doesn’t mean I’m superior. After all, we enjoy tobacco, but just partake in different ways.
One element to the pipe smoking world that I’m apprehensive towards is being a hipster. Yes, I dropped the dreaded H word. Since starting pipe smoking, I’ve been fearful of ending up with the H title. It makes me feel defensive to think that someone might call me a hipster, when it had no bearing on me choosing a pipe. I’m glad that there are hipsters out there that genuinely enjoy pipe smoking, but I never chose it to fit in with a certain group.
But with the resurgence of pipe smoking, those who have discovered its joys have become too quick to adapt an air of arrogance about it. Oh, I see you’re smoking a cigarette, that’s nice. I’m quite fond of this 60’s shell Dunhill, in which I partake in many a bowl of Stonehaven. Have you heard of Stonehaven? It’s pretty obscure; I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of it.
The last thing I want to do is turn someone off from pipe smoking because of acting like an arrogant ass in front of someone with my pipe.
We’re not superior to anyone. We’re not the smartest people in the room because of our pipe. We’ve just found a hobby that speaks to our soul and brings us comfort and joy. Let’s be positive and approachable about our pipe smoking and have a little humility about it. Some people will always be cigar smokers, and if that’s what they enjoy, then so be it.
Most of all, a snobby attitude robs us of what is great about pipe smoking. Smoking a pipe promotes introspection and quiet contemplation. When we’re too concerned about looking cooler than anyone else, it sours the air with self-righteousness. Let’s not do that. Let us strive to be humble, learning from others, and showing that we’re both teachable and able to teach.
Now if you can blow smoke rings with your pipe, though, Gandalf it up. You’re a wizard, so you’ve earned it.