The Unsmoked Pipe: How P.A.D. begins

by Mark Irwin


Case N° 120601

     PIPE ACQUISITION DISORDER, or P.A.D., first recognized by kapnismologist Dean James in a classic ASP post at the turn of the new century, is by now a well-known disorder among pipe smokers the world over. It strikes without warning, afflicting the pipeman regardless of age, class, station or rank. It is actively encouraged by retailers, brick-and-mortar tobacconists and even the pipe makers themselves, without apparent regard for the well-being of those who come under its influence. Yet little is known about what triggers it, capitulating otherwise sane pipe smokers into the howling abyss.
     Here is one man’s story. The facts are true, only the man’s name has been changed.

Hi, my name is “Charles Mundungus.” I haven’t bought a pipe in . . . Sixten, no I meansixteen days and three hours. In the last 18 days and 3 hrs, however, I’ve bought seven. I was on a binge. It was the Chicagoland Pipe Show, a place someone like me should probably never go, at least without quite a bit more of the green stuff than I had with me at the time.

    Thanks to this article I read a few years back in The Pipe Collector, I know I’ve got P.A.D. And at the Chicago show, the “P.A.D. XII” (as they’re known because of their pioneering “12 Step” program) were there to help me, or things could’ve been much, much worse. Yeah, we had to meet in the laundry room basement of the hotel, but so what? I like the smell of Bari, no, I mean burning hotel sheets. And they were stand-up guys. Thanks to them, I know I can lick this problem.

    My clinician said that if I told you about my problem, it might help me come to terms with it, or at least understand why my wife kicked me out, my dog died, my business is in Chapter 11 and I’m having trouble sleeping at night. Actually I might be having trouble sleeping because there’s not much air circulation in this storage locker where I live with my pipes and tobacco cellar.

    I can’t tell you how it begins with other guys, but I can tell you how it began with me. It all started four years ago. Before that, I’d been a pipeman for thirty years, sure, but I was content with a dozen or so pipes and sometimes even smoked a cigar. 

    But that summer, flipping through the pages of a copy of Pipes & Tobaccos magazine, my eyes fell on an ad for something different, something I hadn’t seen before, a “CHUBBY” billiard, from some place called Neatpipes in Italy. It was... beautiful. A work of art. “Hmm,” I wondered, “I wonder how much these Purdy, no pretty pipes Castello, I mean cost? ”  I should add that things were good four years ago. My dog was alive, my wife and I slept in the same house, and my birthday was just a few weeks away. I hate birthdays.

    So I went to this fellow’s website and read what he said about his love for Chubbies. In my mind’s eye I pictured a dark little guy, kind of a 5’ x 5’ Luciano Pavarotti. But mostly I just looked at Chubbies. And the more I looked, the more I knew I needed one. I needed one like a fish needs a bicycle, as it turned out. But which one? I loved this straight-grained natural finished Beauty with a silver band (Exhibit A). But my wife loved this swirly, reptilian-looking thing (Exhibit B). Yeah, it was a neat pipe too. Which one? Which one? Beauty or the Beast? And then I made the mistake of my life. I bought both.

    When they arrived, I thought—“I can’t smoke this straight-grained natural finish Beauty with a silver band, not yet.” So I just put it on display in the man-cave and smoked the Beast. Every now and again I’d pick it up, stick it between my teeth, look at myself in the mirror and think, “Some day... some day.” But I couldn’t bring myself to smoke it.

    A year passed, then another, and there it sat in its shrine. But something began to happen: I noticed I was hitting the “Buy It Now” button more frequently, and on ever-more-expensive pipes. Without thinking, there was now not one UNSMOKED pipe at the shrine, but two, then three, four, five—. For Peterson’s, no Pete’s sake, what was happening to me?

    Thanks to Dr. Irwin’s persistent and unflagging efforts, I now have a theory on why this happens to middle-aged geezers like unto myself. Recall that before P.A.D. struck I had only a dirty dozen or so pipes, all of which I’d smoked for years beyond count. They were all well-seasoned vets, a regular Band of Brothers—each one delivering the goods, bringing out the best of whatever tobacco I was smoking. But breaking in a new pipe? Yeeck. It takes time. It takes effort. 

    I had created my own Scylla and Charybdis: on the one hand, I LOVED this new world of what I was calling in my naivete “art pipes”—handmade Italian beauties, mostly, though there were some lovely high-grades from other climes and makers as well. On the other hand, I HATED breaking in new pipes. I was caught.

    So there it is: the perfect recipe for P.A.D. The sad story of my smoking life. And the sad thing is, no one cares. You may just be able to hear the morta, I mean mournful tune—like school kids say, it’s “the world’s smallest violin, and it’s playing just for me.” 


Mundungus pipe statistics:

57 pipes in current rotation
15 unsmoked pipes
01 Sea Urchin pipe on order from Northern Briars
01 pipe “That Will Someday Be Mine”: Larrysson Tree Stump
01 pipe I look at compulsively: Becker Chubby Dublin Morland
Average time spent daily looking at pipes: 12 minutes
Average time spent daily thinking about pipes: unknown
Average time spent daily smoking pipes: 2hr 12 minutes


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