Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the Out Door

My brother – also a pipe-smoker – and I were having a discussion the other day about which is a more enjoyable experience: smoking a pipe inside or outside. My brother wholeheartedly endorses the outside approach, while I am a little more dubious.

First, we must acknowledge one advantage to my brother's opinion: it is far more acceptable to have a pipe outside than it is inside. We must accept that, no matter how much we whine and scream and moan, indoor smoking is out. Outdoor smoking may actually be following close, with recent bans on college campuses and in parks, including the completely public areas (doesn't seem so public though, does it?). This entire notion provokes a rant for another time, especially since I am currently re-reading Mill's On Liberty and remember why I subscribe to Utilitarianism. “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”

Luckily, there are places to which one can escape. I still have my own abode, in which, for now, I am still allowed to enjoy my pipe. There are also the occasional cigar bars that allow the humble pipe-smoking to join their often boisterous ranks. After all, one will barely notice his presence in the midst of those wishing to show how big their cigar is.

Since there are still some places where a pipe can by lit up inside, the question is a valid one. Which is more enjoyable?

Inside certainly has its advantages. First of all, there is climate control, which should not be under-appreciated. Secondly, there is no wind. This has many advantages, including making lighting a pipe much easier and it allows the room note of the tobacco to be fully savored. Additionally, the seating is often infinitely more comfortable. I know this sounds absurd, but the essence of pipe-smoking is enjoyment, and I am much more able to enjoy myself in a leather chair than I am in a cold, metal one. Finally, it is worth mentioning that once one has found an indoor setting where pipe-smoking is allowed, one is less likely to be ridiculed or eyed oddly.

What about outside? Smoking outdoors allows one to enjoy the beauty of nature in quiet contemplation, which is one of the premier experiences with a pipe. One of the other advantages is the wind. Wait, what? Didn't he just say that not having wind was an advantage for smoking indoors? Yes, he did. But give me some leeway. The breeze offers many advantages for the pipe-smoker. First of all, not all pipe tobaccos smell wonderful to everyone. Sure, there are the cherry and chocolate flavored blends, but there are also some stinky Englishes out there (though, I love 'em!). Thus, the breeze blowing the smoke away might offer an advantage to the smoker himself and any guests he might be entertaining. Also, the wind can help one's pipe stay lit longer with less concentration on puffing. My first one-light bowl was outside, because the gentle breeze kept the embers going. Another advantage of being outdoors is that there are a lot of wonderful activities to enjoy outdoors along with pipe-smoking, such a barbequing. Finally, when one is sitting outside with a pipe, one will often be approached by strangers and told how that person's grandfather or uncle smoked a pipe; one may even run into another pipe-smoker by accident. These serendipitous events are incredible joys that are often lost while shutting oneself inside.

Ultimately, I would agree that being outdoors is a more enjoyable experience with a pipe, but inside is far more practical. Either way, the pipe itself is a glorious thing that enhances both locales.


  1. In the beginning of the gray and shabby fifties of the last century in my country were published many comic strips about the adventures from the so called Captain Rob, his sailing ship Freedom and his dog Skipper.
    These strips were for thousand of young people but also for the more grown up a key concept.
    The exciting stories were also a prelude to a journey were the reader could escape from the dull everyday matters.

    This Captain Rob was always drawn with a pipe clenched between his teeth.
    Nowadays I know that the shape of such a pipe was a Bulldog.
    In that time you saw many men smoking a pipe in that shape and I think that was the result from the popularity of the hero in the strips who smoked such a pipe.

    The original books are collector items now and on auctions the prices are very high.

    Stay well,

    Huub-Haarlem/ The Netherlands

  2. What a great story! Thank you for sharing that. I think it is interesting to see how much popular characters can impact our pipe smoking habits.