"Do as I say, not as I do,"
I remember my father, alone on the porch,
chewing his SKOL, and spitting the charred
remnants into an old Coors can.

I always wondered what it was he tasted.
It looked like gasoline, swirling around with
little bits of gunk mixed into the oily blackness.

But, he dipped. And dipped again.

When I was four, I tried to drink some of it, swill it down
like I thought he did when he was done.
My mother told him that would be the end of the marriage if I did.
They divorced anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter much now.

Dad quit anyway, and bought a pipe, a nice briar pipe with an
old man face carved into the bowl.
He bought some vanilla tobacco, which smelled like
wealth and bourbon.
At that age, I didn't know that, but I do now.
He said he would quit at some point.
He said that it was bad for him, and more importantly
I should never start.
He wanted me to be around for a long time,
longer than him,
but that was pretty much a given.

As my 21st birthday rolled around, I couldn't help
but think back on my 13th birthday.
My dad sat in the corner of the living room
with white smoke tracing the ceiling, carefully
laying in the stain that would be there until we ripped
out the roof to make room for a solarium.
It was pleasant, whisky mixed with birthday cake.

I bought my first pipe when I was 21, a simple meerschaum,
no face, no animal, just a simple carving of a tree.
That night, I sat with my dad on my apartment patio,
whisky in hand, pipe lit, and
we talked for hours about the sunrise.


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