Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Closing Walls and Ticking Clocks

by J.S. Holland

Sitting here sipping iced tea, enjoying my pipe on the veranda, and listening to Coldplay's "Clocks", I am reminded once again that sometimes things happen for a reason.

The other day, after having left a certain store that will not be named, in a shopping mall that will - Oxmoor - I sat on a bench to relax and watch the fountain for a bit. But soon I became aware that some chubby employee from said store had followed me, and was standing watching me with his cellphone extended. Either the man has a very peculiar way of texting, or he was taking my photograph. The hell?! But why? Did he think I was a shoplifter? Did he think I was an enemy agent working for Interzone, Inc. trying to steal the MacGuffin? Or maybe he just thought I was cute.

I stood up and made eye contact with him as I walked towards him and he got this panicked "uh oh, I'm busted" look on his face. Instead of confronting him, I decided to walk past him down another mall corridor. But I checked out the glass store reflections in my peripheral vision, and I'll be damned if spyboy wasn't still following me! So I ducked into the Oxmoor Smoke Shoppe, which is always a good idea anyway, even if one isn't being shadowed by some creepy geek in a blue shirt. Again with the peripheral vision, I saw fatboy pause outside the store, momentarily indecisive about what to do now. He continued walking on, and I turned my attention to Mr. Tucker's impressive array of apothecary jars filled with high-end high-octane fancy tobacco blends.

I lifted several lids and sniffed the heady delights of real pipeshag worthy of sailors of the seven seas, from the Gulf of Mexico to Aldebaran. I felt a genuine flash of past-life memory standing there, whiffs of the ocean, blood, unpasteurized milk, bay rum, ambergris, gunpowder, and some pilgrim guy who smelled like a goat. I don't mean that this is what the tobacco actually smelled like; I'm just sayin'.

I chose a blend called "Holy Smoke", so named because the formula was created for the shop many years ago by a religious gentleman from the local Seminary. It contains four different kinds of Virginia, just a little burley, and a little Cavendish. And, I reckon, some special kind of casing whose flavor cannot be adequately described in three dimensional communication. Ask a Monk.

By the time I've typed this far into the blog entry, I'm now listening to Men Without Hats sing "Lose my Way" which is rather appropriate because lost is a good place to be right now and a good place to be going; either lost in the stars like Kurt Weill or lost like LOST. And, of course, lost in the earthy delights of the Holy Smoke.

Holy Smoke is moist and coarsely cut, and somehow manages to be powerfully aromatic without being nauseting. Its room note is virtually identical to what you get when you sniff the bag, which came as a nice surprise. Its grey porous sweetness (that's my synesthesia kicking in) also has a salty, briny component that really snaps me to attention and makes me pause and go ".....oh!" like someone having a satori. Which, in fact, I am.

It set me back six-something for a hefty 2 oz. bag (I think he actually loaded me up with a lot more than that), and I love it so much that I could see cellaring the stuff by the jarful myself. I also plan on packing it along in great quantities when I pack up the plantation and go on the road later this summer, hopefully two steps ahead of all stalkers. But hey, what the heck; everything that's supposed to happen sooner or later does.

"If you smell the smoke, you don't need to be told what you've got to do..." - Devo, "Here To Go".

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