So of course you all read about Pipe Club.  And you read about how Jan muscled her way into the group through a cunning mix of bravado, cajoling, old-fashioned gum-shooery, and medium-grade threats.  We for a while things were fine.  Jan was cool, pipes were cool, our store where we smoked was cool, and all was right with the world.

Then Jan had to go and mess it all up.

Apparently she’d tired of our usual rota of conversation topics: politics, religion, philosophy, office gossip.  So last week we all meet up, and Jan’s not there.  We’re wondering what the problem is because we just saw her at the office before we all made up excuses to leave, and she never ever misses Pipe Club.  We’re all bummed because it’s like missing your best friend at drinking hour.  Or finding out your neighbor’s house got overrun by zombies.  Well, maybe not exactly like that.

Anyway we were sad for about five minutes … until she walked in the door.  Carrying hats.

“What’s with all the hats, Jan?” we all asked.

“It’s a theme day.  And the Theme of the Day is hats.”  I looked at Phil incredulously.  Hats.  Man, this was going bad.  She continued while passing out the hats, one to each of us.  “You have to take a hat and make up a story about who would have a hat like that.  And you have to include pipes somehow.  Those are the rules of Hat Day.”

I was handed a hat.  I think it was a pith helmet.  She motioned for me to start talking.  I puffed on my pipe a little to stall for time.  “Um, I’m Lionel St. John-Smythe-Gomez.  I’m just back from deepest, darkest, Peru, where I found new … tobacco varieties to … smoke in my pipe.”

Jan was elated and clapped like a schoolgirl.  She made the rest of us go, and she even made up something for her flowery hat about being an old church lady who smoked her pipe in the sacristy while washing the altar linens.

The end of that week’s Pipe Club couldn’t come soon enough.  When we were walking out, the owner of the tobacco shop pulled me aside and told us that we coulnd’t keep using his shop if we were going to be up to those “crazy shenanigans” like Hat Day.  So I talked it over with the Pipe Club boys later, and we decided that we’ve got two choices: kick Jan out and face the consequences or find a new place to smoke.

Lord help us.

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