Thursday, November 29, 2012

Does His Writing Pass the Smell Test?

We can’t live in a perfect world. Or maybe I should say…why can’t we live in a perfect world? There’s a good reason: What one person considers perfect, another may probably think of as…flawed. Consider…smells, if you will.

Surveys of Americans in recent years illustrated that cigarette smoking is down among adults, but both cigar and pipe smoking is on the rise. Yes, I said pipe-smoking! That’s the thing you may have seen protruding from your grandfather’s teeth as he ambled about the house.

Four-term New Jersey Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick who served in the 1970s, was known for smoking a pipe—a characteristic she adopted when her doctor advised her to quit cigarettes.

Personally, I quit smoking in 1980, but I keep a full cigar humidor handy for guests, and I still have a nice collection of pipes. And although it’s been years since I fired-up one of my briars or meerschaums, I can still recall the enjoyment I got from lighting up a bowlful of my favorite black Cavendish pipe tobacco.

Curiously, I have found over the years that a lot of cigar smokers also own a pipe or two. And a lot of the pipe smokers I knew would not turn down a good cigar if offered one. Cigarette smokers, on the other hand, I find almost parochial in their choice of tobacco. So much so, that most won’t even stray from their steady brand.

At least that’s the way it used to be. And I have smoked all three devices. I always considered a cigar or pipe something to be enjoyed slowly, and usually when I’m alone, whereas cigarettes were more of a …social activity. If someone else lit up; you did too.

Now, with cigar and pipe smoking on the rise, well, I guess that will also bring a new brand of tobacco Nazi out of the woodwork. I heard one recently on Philadelphia’s local news. “I can’t stand it when I’m on the beach and I’m downwind of someone smoking a cigar,” she complained. “They smell terrible! They think just because they’re out in the open they can smoke!”

Well, imagine their nerve: Smoking out in the open by the sea, and assaulting a TV personality’s nostrils. I wanted to talk back to my TV and tell Suzie newscaster that it’s just not a perfect world. Not for her; not for me.

Of course, I enjoy the aroma of a good panatela, but I am usually repulsed by the stench of some of the perfumes worn by contemporary women. There’s one omnipresent fragrance that—to me—smells suspiciously like cat urine. Yet I catch that aroma often—especially in restaurants.

And, although not as offensive to me, I certainly don’t want someone doused in Jean Nate’ sitting at the next table while I’m trying to enjoy a steak—medium well, please.

No matter how delicate your olfactory senses, you can log on to anytime, and not have your nose offended. Even though I have heard people exclaim from time to time, “That guy’s writing stinks!”

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