Before lighting my pipe at the local soccer field, I wandered off an appropriate distance from the group of parents gathered on the sideline. My estimation of appropriate stand-off distance must have been underestimated, as a man separated himself from the group and headed my way.
“Oh-oh’” I thought.
It was a private soccer field, so smoking wasn’t automatically prohibited, but still someone must have taken exception to my pipe. Extinguishing the pipe and issuing an apology looked to be in order.
To my great surprise, the man launched into a detail-rich story about his grandfather. The conversation had taken me by surprise, and many details went missing, but a summary of the story follows.
“When I was a young boy, my grandfather would take me fly-fishing at the river. He would stand in the shallows and light his pipe. There was something about his tobacco that attracted bees. Every time he took me fishing, he would light his pipe and a bee would start flying around his head. He would take his hat off and swat the bee. Picking it up from the water, he would bait his hook with it.”
He paused. We were both turned and watching the little kids’ soccer game.
“It is one of my favorite memories,” he continued without turning his head. “The scent of your pipe brought that back again this morning. Thanks.”
And that was it. He walked back to his family. I relit my pipe.
(Editor’s note: Monitor sports correspondent John Arbter doesn’t have much to cover these days, so he’s going into the archives and sharing some observations from his beat.)