Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Unbreakable Pipe

      I had been at the Verde River a few weeks when a weekend hit that was every bit as exciting as my first. I met many people then who have been cherished friends now for over a decade. Most don't remember me from that time. I was still keeping mostly to myself and had shaved my head. My friends may have some memory of those meetings, but have revealed they were unaware it was me. It am reputed to be much more sociable (and hirsute) than I was that first trip.

      It was late April or early May and the weather was that from which summer memories are so often made. I was camped alongside the river below a grass crested dune of sand that no longer exists. My camp was invisible from the drive, yet I was afforded a view of all incoming traffic and a quick escape into the trees adjacent to the north side of my tent.

      A young couple, not noticing my camp from above, wandered in and stayed to share my fire and their smoke. It was good smoke and they were most welcome.

      He was a glass blower, specializing in pipes, and they were on their way to Bonnaroo or Burning Man or some such event to ply their wares. After a few drinks, my guests retrieved from their car a wooden case with samples of their art. They made a present to me of a small chameleon glass one hitter about three inches long.

      After showing it and announcing his intent to leave it with me as a gift, he raised the pipe over his head and dashed it into the rocks of my fire pit. It bounced about the stones for a bit and finally came to rest in the sand... unharmed. An unbreakable chameleon glass pipe is a wonderful gift for a fellow who lives outside among the rock.

      For the next month, whenever somebody at the hot springs or campground inquired for a pipe, I would proudly display my little gem, dash it on the rocks, then offer it up to smoke. It was a big hit and if I had contact information for the artist, I could have sent him a lot of business.

      Then it happened.

      One evening, as I was returning to my camp from an afternoon soak upriver, a group of campers asked if I had a pipe they could use. Responding in the affirmative, I revealed my now richly hued piece, and dashed it into the rocks of their fire pit where it exploded into tiny little pieces.

      They all just stared at me. One guy told me what a dick move that was and his girlfriend said I could have just said no, I didn't have to be shitty about it. I looked like an asshole. I explained myself; that the pipe was not intended to break, and they understood. I presented my rolling papers as an alternative and we enjoyed a good laugh as well as a fine joint.

      I'd like to find another of those nearly indestructible pipes.


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