That's what the sign said. It's been at least a year, but maybe you've seen the sign in another head shop. Maybe it was in a glass blower's store or a pottery studio. The text of the sign goes something like this:

Don't say the B-word!

These are authentic water pipes for use with tobacco and cloves ONLY.

{Your state here} forbids me to sell you drug paraphernalia, and I won't endanger my livelihood by selling you something ILLEGAL.
"water pipes"           "bongs"
"tobacco accessories"   "hookahs"
"glass sculptures"      "crack pipes"
"centerpieces"          "hash pipes"
"that really groovy     "that really groovy
Alien-looking crazy-    Alien-looking crazy-
assed vase."            assed BONG."
If you don't know what to call it, JUST POINT!
Otherwise, I will kick you out of the store and you will not be allowed to make any purchases here. All purchasers of tobacco accessories must be 21 or older to comply with State Law regarding tobacco use.

Let me dwell on some of the intricacies of this sign--if they didn't have to hide behind tobacco laws, they could sell these to anyone. That is to say, if marijuana were legal, the situation for a minor would suddenly become vastly different. He or she could purchase the very same water pipe, but would be forced to call it a "bong," and could be carded and kicked out for calling it a "tobacco pipe." I'll let NORML work out the details on exactly how that would work out. In the meantime, I'll finish my tale.

So I was in the head shop and my friend was getting her belly button pierced, when this kid walks in. He's got a Limp Bizkit shirt on, and he's wearing a wool toboggan in the middle of July, and this guy is so cool that he walks his baggy-pantsed, 15-year-old ass right past the sign that says "no minors," and pauses to read the sign over the beaded curtain, leading into the roomful of intricate glass sculptures. He reads the sign, pushes through the beaded curtain, and as the owner walks back towards the area to ensure nothing fishy is happening, the kid pops his head through the curtain, holds out something out of an M.C. Escher painting, and asks loudly,

"Hey man, how much for this BONG?"

I have never seen a hippie move that fast--the kid was out on his ass and the bo--water pipe back in place in under 10 seconds. The kid was ejected, and violently,
not for being a minor,
not for being a pothead or a stoner,
not for his shitty taste in music,
not for his attitude,
but for being so indescribably stupid as to disregard such a clearly-worded sign.

So please: when you go to your local head shop, don't be an idiot. Point, grunt, giggle, ask for a water pipe, but don't wink... and don't say the B-word.

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