Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An interview with Mr. Pipe Man

Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog post entitled "Mr. Pipe Man." It was a dreamy and whimsical take on an elderly gentleman who could be seen daily sitting on his bench puffing on his pipe. This habitual routine caught my attention and my imagination ran positively wild. At first when I sat down to write that post, I wanted to create a conversation between the man and I. Yet, I found that my imagination couldn't extend that far. Therefore, I left him speechless.

A couple of months later, my mother decided it would be a grand idea to give him this essay that I had written about him. She walked it over and she presented it to him. Thankfully, he liked it even plans on framing it. Naturally, he wanted to meet the author. Never had I any intention of meeting this man of my essay; but at the encouragement of my mother and then at his request, I went to visit Mr. Pipe Man.

As I walked up his sidewalk and knocked on his door, I could not help but muse at how potentially awkward my introduction could be. After five minutes, the door creaked open and there stood the man himself entirely clothed in a vibrant red robe with feet bared to the world. The introductions took place after he apologized for his dress in a most gentlemanly way. Light dawned in his eyes when I tried to explain that my mother had been here with an essay before and suddenly he was saying, "Please go sit on the bench over there and I will go get dressed."

As I sat in the shade of the tree on the very bench of which I had previously written, I tried to relax. It was impossible. For the moment had come and I was going to meet the object of my imagination. No longer would he be confined to the figments of imagination. Through my excited melancholy, I saw Mr. Pipe Man emerge from the house in paint smeared pants and white shirt. In his hand, he grasped his iconic pipe with a canister of tobacco and matches.

Mr Pipe Man aka Mike sat down next to me on the bench and he began talking. Once ascertaining that I was indeed majoring in English, he began to ramble about his teaching days because "I just want to give you a clear idea of what teaching is like." There were moments where I wished for a tape recorder so that I could listen to his rough voice tell a couple of his stories once again.

"There were some days where I wanted an airplane to plow into the side of specific buses so that some of my students wouldn't arrive to school. A boy in my class drew a picture of me with a handle bar mustache right before the end of school. During the summer, I grew this (gesturing to his regal handle bar mustache). Imagine that boy's face when school began." Mr. Pipe man chuckled to himself.

"I hated my school. I urinated in a bag. Then, I flew an airplane over the school and I opened the windows as I flew over the roof. The thud of that bag of urine on the roof of that school was the most satisfying feeling that I have ever experienced." chortled Mr. Pipe Man.

At this point, my eyebrows were about sky high. My imagination had not taken into any consideration surprises possibly packed into this seemingly serene person. He was Eccentric with a capital 'e'. Nothing had prepared me for this surprise, but it was rather a comical one.

Mr. Pipe Man has a keen dry wit that I was unprepared for. His comments left me confused or laughing hesitantly. Dry humor is hard to catch. I did find out that he's a great fan of the Three Stooges, silent films, and archaic horror films. In his basement, he proudly serves as dictator and handyman at a miniature town. Mr. Pipe Man revels in the naming of the different buildings with witty and slapstick play on words. These names either had me chuckling at his keen mind or blushing at the meaning of the words.

At a pause in Mr. Pipe Man's flow of conversation, I asked him about when he began smoking his pipe that he was currently puffing away at. Apparently, in the winter of '59 when he was a junior in high school, Mr. Pipe Man had walked down to a convenience store to purchase the pipe. From that day on, he smoked his pipe. Originally, Mr. Pipe Man had tried to hide the ashes of his tobacco within the ashes of his father's cigarettes. Yet, his father had come home, taken a look at the ashes, and asked, "Son, when did you begin smoking a pipe?" Mr. Pipe Man recalled that no one had tried to make him stop pipe smoking.

Heidi, the wolf dog, was contentedly eating her dinner within the house or so said Mr. Pipe Man. Therefore, I did not have the pleasure of meeting the wolf dog that took at least a portion of the spotlight of my previous essay on Mr. Pipe Man. I did see tufts of fur throughout the yard that proclaimed the presence of this wolf dog.

My imagination in no way prepared me for my meeting with Mr. Pipe Man. His appearance of wisdom and serenity hid a man who lived life in a cantankerous and witty way. I knew he was eccentric, but I did not realize quite how eccentric the man actually was. I do believe that he played up his eccentricities with the hope of shocking me. Well, he did good. I'm shocked and happily so. Bubbles are made to burst. When visit ended and I left his cloud of pipe smoke, I walked away with the desire to have a wit that matched his so that we could smoke pipes together and chuckle over our old fashioned wit. Oh, and let's just say that I'm very thankful that I never did give Mr. Pipe Man speech in my first blog post because it would have sounded completely absurd next to reality.