While pipe smoking is a refined and sophisticated pastime, dedicated smokers know it doesn't always go to plan. Here are just a few of the trials every disciple of the dead wood has had to deal with.
1. Having your smoke session interrupted
Here's a situation that always catches you by surprise: just as you were about to relax with some deeps hits from the hollow branch, you realise something is amiss. There it is, an undeniable feeling that somewhere out there some ancient evil has arisen or reawakened. It could be an artifact imbued with malice or maybe a blight has spread across the land. It could be in the East, but it's usually somewhere in the North, never in the South where it might actually be warm. Looks like you have no choice but to gather unlikely band of adventurers and put a stop to it. Good luck getting a moment to yourself over the next several years as your travel companions treat this quest as a means to resolve their emotional issues. Next time consider staying put in the starting zone.
2. Dry mouth
Is there anything worse than a barren mouth just as you're about to deliver a dramatic monologue? After a soiree of intrigue, you've finally gathered all the suspects into the parlor to reveal who among them murdered the wealthy industrialist. To add a theatrical flourish to the proceedings you take in a hit from the bark bowl, only to wind up with a lungful of ash. Great. What should have been a detailed account of how you navigated the labyrinth of deception and red herrings is forever tainted by an itchy throat. Not only that, but this was your chance to prove to the constable that your feats of deductive logic are just as good if not superior to regular investigative work. We've all been there; try to power through and hope the cottonmouth lends your voice some gravitas.
3. Smoking outside
Some people can't tolerate pipe smoke in their homes, so you are isolated to the outdoors where you can think about how it ever came to this. You have changed somewhere along the way, or perhaps the rest of the country has. Perhaps the war never truly ended when we brought what was left of ourselves home. We sought the old institutions of marriage and family as a shelter from the senselessness of it all. As though we could just carve out a picket fence with nothing more to worry about than the next mortgage payment. But is that all there is? Suburban grey mornings with a spouse who hardly seems to recognise you anymore? Sure you can see your own breath out here alone in the cold, but are you truly alive?
4. Smelling of pipe resin
You work hard and when it's time for a break you deserve to take a few quick puffs. But rules are rules, so not only do you have to hide your hobby on the job, you have to worry about any odors that follow you back to the nine-to-five. It's with this paranoia in mind that the Captain strolls into your quarters and implies that you missed three easy harpoonings today because you were in the haze of the pipe. You can deny it all you want, argue about how it has no effect on your performance, and how the rough seas are to blame, that a ship of this size has no business being pushed this deep into uncharted waters, but as long as the odor of oak-smoke clings to your garments you have no choice but to accept the blame or be thrown overboard.
5. Smoking with a stranger
Sometimes the pursuit of the pipe leads to unexpected encounters. One snowy evening at the tavern, a gentleman offers to smoke with you. Perhaps it is his generosity, but something about his dark manner and flashing eyes compels you to confide in this stranger. You tell him at length of how your son has struck with a sudden illness, and how your love of gambling and drink make it so you cannot afford the doctors consultation. The man says with a fire behind his eyes that he may have a means of curing your boy, if you surrender unto him your immortal soul. The two of you shake hands and despite the warmth of the tavern you feel a tremendous cold snake through you. Such is the price we pay for our habits, and the toll never changes.