What was that?

What was that?

I just had one of the the strangest pipe-related encounters of my life.

I smoke a pipe. When I’m out and about, people frequently come up to share their impressions. Some used to say it was odd to see someone so young smoking a pipe. That’s increasingly infrequent as I get older. I’m growing into the part, apparently. Others tell me they like the smell. Others tell me what the smell reminds them of: Generally their grandfathers. But the conversation I just had was … new.

I was smoking in a parking lot outside a coffee shop in a small town where my family had made a pitstop on the way back from a hike. A couple parked, and the woman walked into the coffeeshop, but the man came right for me. He had a big grin on his face, and he shouted at the top of his lungs, “September 22nd, 2014!”

I bit. “What happened?”

“I died. My daughter did CPR to bring me back. I had smoked a pipe. Well, I used to smoke a lot of marijuana. Then my wife made me stop. So I switched to a pipe a few years ago. And then I died.” He dropped his voice. “But I’m a rebellious smoker.” He reached into a pocket hidden behind the breast pocket of his shirt, which opened at the side. I don’t know if he bought a shirt with that secret pocket already installed, or if he added it himself. He pulled out a little cigar. “Now I smoke these. They’re made with pipe tobacco.” And he pointed to an image of a pipe printed in white on the side of the black little cigar.

I didn’t know how to respond. I think I said, “Cool!”

He went back to shouting loudly enough that his wife could have heard him if she hadn’t left already. “So, my wife saw you smoking that pipe and told me I should tell you that story. So now I did!” And then he turned, saw she was gone, and followed her into the coffee shop while I tried to figure out what to say.

I may have said, “That’s funny!” or “Wild!” or “Thanks!” none of which would have been quite right.

I don’t understand the moral of the story. Is it: Don’t smoke a lot of marijuana or you may switch to a pipe and die and be revived to go back to smoking pipe tobacco? Or: Continue smoking marijuana because switching to a pipe is potentially fatal? Or: Tell strangers a story when your wife tells you to, but make sure you undermine the central thesis so the stranger isn’t offended? Or: Smoking too much marijuana and being revived from death via CPR can cause you to tell stories in non-traditional ways at a socially inappropriate level of volume?

What am I supposed to be learning from this story?