Anyway, we bought a cheap pipe from Amazon.com, but it didn’t draw very well; getting any smoke was like trying to breastfeed from a doorknob. We took it to a local tobacco shop and presented it at the front counter.
“This pipe doesn’t draw very well. May I gain some advice from your resident pipe expert?”
A plump little cigar troll appeared from the back storeroom. “Let me see it,” she said, taking the pipe in one clawed hand. “It’s probably just clogged.”
She began violently twisting the stem from the pipe, her meaty hooks wringing the life from it like a farmer throttling a chicken, and then came the sound: *eee-err-eee-err-SNAP!* The stem fell to the counter, shattered. You could practically hear our thoughts:
THE WIFE: Du Narr! Ich hasse dich! (You fool! I hate you!)
ME: …Oh you ditzy prostitute.
That’s when we were joined by a new pipe expert — Nervous Girl. She was at least 6′ 2,” which I did not appreciate, and visibly anxious. She hurriedly explained we would receive a replacement pipe, though my ears must have been plugged, because I didn’t hear an apology in there anywhere. She then examined our broken pipe and informed me it wasn’t drawing very well because it was too cheap. So, apparently, a hollow stick with one burning end has to be lined with gold dust and pixie dreams in order to put smoke in my lungs.
“It probably wasn’t working because it’s not a brair,” stated Nervous Girl.
“What’s a briar?” I asked.
“A pipe made of briar wood,” she replied. “We only sell briars here.”
“Oh good,” I replied. “C’mon honey, let’s go pick one out.”
Nervous Girl gave us a brand-new briarwood for free, and all condescension aside, The Wife and I were rather pleased with the result of our quest for advice. I did feel a little bad for that rotund smoking gnoll who broke our pipe though, for later that night her cobblestone pillow would surely run slick with nicotine tears.
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