Underappreciating the Familiar

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We human beings have a peculiar feature: we tend to underappreciate the familiar. (I realize there are exceptions to all such observations.) Shortly after acquiring something — anything — new, it becomes part of the landscape and barely noticed. We all know this happens.

It’s no different with pipes and pipesmokers. For many of us, no sooner do we score a new (whether brand-new or estate) pipe, and we’re on to the next hunt and conquest. What about the latest one? Oh, it’s part of the collection now. Onward and upward!

Yes, I exaggerate to make a point, but it’s a valid one, I believe. That’s why I think it pays to step back once in a while and take a fresh look at what we already possess. I try to do this often with my pipe collection, which may consist of 70 inexpensive and moderately priced pipes. (And that includes my cobs!) After all, at some point in my past, I was excited about each and every one of them. I need only remind myself of that.

Now, when I pick up one of my neglected pipes, I can say to myself, “If I saw someone else smoking a pipe like that, I’d be thinking, ‘I want one of those!'” And when I smoke it, I think, “Why am I not smoking this every day?”

The Rodney Dangerfield of Pipes?


I’m talking about corncob pipes. Okay, maybe it’s wrong to say they get no respect. But they don’t get enough … not nearly enough.

Too often I’ve heard pipe smokers answer the question “How many pipes do you have” with “If you don’t count my cobs, I have N pipes.

Why would anyone think of not counting the cobs? They’re not second-class pipes!

Not So Fast

I sometimes catch myself thinking or saying, “If money were no object I’d buy so many more pipes.” But then I catch myself. Would I really?

It stands to reason that given the small number of hours in a day, the more pipes one has, the less often one can smoke any particular pipe. But a pipe smoked infrequently is an unfamiliar pipe. You have to get to know a pipe to appreciate it, and you have to smoke it to appreciate it.

So, yes, I’d buy more than I do, but not as many as I sometimes think.

The same goes for tobacco.