Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Evantine Order for the Very Calm Life: Rule Four

Varieties of tobacco,
every desired kind of thine and thy friends,
shall plenteously fill thy storehouses,
shaken down and running over.

This is at least as important as the possession of a Good Wife to the advancement of Calm. Kipling famously said, "And a woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke." In that poem (The Betrothed, see poster for sale here) the potential wife is demanding that her future husband choose between her and his cigars. Each Rule of the Very Calm Life is expected by the Abbot to "play well with the others". A wife with Calm providings will not deny you the other providers of Calm. No woman is pretty enough or lusty enough, to deny you butter, bacon, or books. Let her also not be peevish about tobacco. "Pretty and lusty" only can bring part of the Calm to a man. Let the shoemaker stick to his last.

Many years ago, I was (and am now) a smoker of both pipe and cigar. Also many years ago, the ministry in which my Amazing Missus and I engaged (and do now) is that of hospitality. The one was for me in my thinky moments and the other was for the Kingdom of God. And then an epiphany of goodness, pleasure, and the essential growth in Calm Living was given. A close friend of mine, as I visited him in his office, offered me a cigar. It was a very good cigar and it was offered within his office. The two worlds of thinky moments and hospitality became one. This friend, this saint, this "angel-straight-from-God" continued this offering every time I went by to see him. I solemnly affirmed that I would measure hospitality thusly, a "Hail Fellow, Well Met" sort of hospitality and that I might bless others as he did me.

The world of men (and very good women) wears the smell of burning tobacco as a badge of danger, thought, camaraderie, and conversation. Hold this leather chaired bliss out against a nanny-state world that is trying, with all engines running, to drive any semblance of "hearth side" from our allowance and cultural memories. As an aside, dastards like Mayor Bloomberg of NYC have moved to destroy any good thing that gives "enjoyment" higher status than "health" (he has banned trans fats and is working on salt). Men are not "allowed" to even smoke within the four walls for which their hard work has paid. All this is becoming an inhospitable Utopia where long life at any cost becomes the Hell they insist on calling Heaven. But we know, (don't we men?), that nothing can match (no pun intended) the bliss of staggering up from a table of eye-crossing victuals which ran with rivulets of "fat things", waddling into the library and lighting up a combustible dessert that some "man of God" pressed into your chubby hand. Let the welcome matte be laid out for similarly longing comrades. After food and drink, tobacco runs up the score. And when you offer a cigar, make it a good cigar wrapped in the memories of being rolled on the thighs of a large Jamaican woman.

By "plenteously", my friends, I mean so much or many that no note of selfishness will beset you as you open the box before them. Our Lord asks us to make friends for ourselves with unrighteous mammon. If I hand a visitor to my home three dollars, my gift would be soon forgotten. Make it a three dollar cigar and you have bought yourself a friend, for the same small monetary value, yes, but mixed with rare place and priceless company. This is a largesse, the scattering of which makes eternal friends. And nowadays what could be more "unrighteous" than smoking.


timmyjimi said...

I have managed at least one stogie each season on the mountain here. (It would be more, but they are hard to come by in the middle of nowhere.) You might be acquainted Nethaniel Ealy, who was gracious enough to pack some Cubans when he visited me last weekend. Rather than following after food and drink, we used a pint and a smoke to cap off a day on the slopes (which, if not a rule for the Calm Life, is certainly part of the good life).

Jacob Suitter said...

Evan, you are livin' the dream good sir, livin' the dream. Hope all is well in Moscow. Jake

Michael Metzler said...


I was going to send you an email, but I seem to have lost your address. Did not see it on this blog.

I'm back blogging again. But in my personal narrative, I forgot to mention the cigars.

" . . . spent a number of evenings each week in Evan Wilson’s dining room and library where I learned what it was like to enjoy the interdisciplinary companionship of an Enlightenment gentleman. . . . "

I'll have to revise.

Michael Metzler