Monday, October 23, 2006

If alcohol is queen, then tobacco is her consort...

It's a fond companion for all occasions, a loyal friend through fair weather and foul. People smoke to celebrate a happy moment, or to hide a bitter regret. Whether you're alone or with friends, it's a joy for all the senses. What lovelier sight is there than that double row of white cigarettes, lined up like soldiers on parade and wrapped in silver paper? I love to touch the pack in my pocket, open it, savor the feel of the cigarette between my fingers, the paper on my lips, the taste of tobacco on my tongue. I love to watch the flame spurt up, love to watch it come closer and closer, filling me with its warmth. - Luis Buñuel

I am about to write the world’s most politically incorrect post. So if you are going to harp on me, please just stop reading now and come back tomorrow.

I miss the taste, and yes, the smell, and the satisfaction of a deep pull, and that lovely click of my Zippo flipping open to light up, and the excuse it gives you to relax for - what is it, seven minutes on average? I miss having something to do with my hands. I miss having a prop when I am drinking, something in my hands with which to punctuate my words.

I know, it’s horrible for you, and you stink, and “Who wants to kiss an ashtray?” (I actually kind of enjoy that taste when kissing someone, but it’s been so long since it’s happened that perhaps I am delusional), blah blah blah. But I have been working pretty hard on some stuff for a friend, doing some scripting/conversion work on text files, and let me tell you how delicious and welcome a cigarette would be right about now. I would love to just step outside, with a fresh, hot cup of coffee, and light up one of my beloved Camel Lights.

I started smoking in college – I was a theatre major, it is WHAT YOU DID. Also, how the hell else were you going to get through those perpetual all-nighters in the drafting studio we had to pull, without nicotine? (Not to mention Crits, but that is a story for another day.) That’s like asking me to get through my days now without chocolate, or email. Not gonna happen…

It kept me from gaining the dreaded Freshman Fifteen – I have never been thinner in my life than I was in college. Ok, so I was also notorious for passing out suddenly, on a regular basis, but that’s neither here nor there. At least I hit the floor gracefully. Now it’d be like beaching a whale.

It gave me the perfect excuse to talk to a guy – asking for a light or bumming a smoke was always a good way to strike up conversation, even if the guy didn’t smoke. It didn’t matter, the ice was broken, even if he replied, “Sorry, I don’t smoke.”

And again, very VERY sorry, but there are very few things in this world sexier than an attractive man in the physical act of smoking. If he’s got nice, long, strong fingers holding the cigarette, all the better. I swear to God, there were two guys (at least two I can think of) in college who could drive me mad just by lighting up.

I smoked the whole way driving back from Maryland after having my heart broken by my first college boyfriend, smoking and sobbing and listening to James Taylor ad nauseum the entire four hours.

I smoked every night, driving home late in the evening, the summers I worked at the community theatre in NJ, the one where I met Mike, who has infamously appeared previously in this blog.

I smoked on breaks on crew, I smoked outside at fraternity parties, I sat on the floor in the hallway freshman year with Angela at 3 in the morning and smoked like a chimney.

I swore I was going to quit when packs went higher than two dollars (!!!).
I didn’t.
I quit – the first time – after I got bronchitis my senior year.
I started again. I quit again.
I started again after my second child was born. Gina and I delighted in hanging out on her porch, shooting the shit about books and life, and smoking.
I quit when I got pregnant again.
Every once in a great while, when I have been drinking, I want a smoke, and I’ll bum one and enjoy it and be wistful for the days when I thought I was immortal, as we all do at the ages of 19 or 20, and thought nothing of smoking a pack a day.

Ok, my sweet Internet buddies, please don’t worry, I will not start smoking again.
My mother died of cancer; it seems like I know more and more people every day who have cancer. I don’t want my kids to start smoking. And my teeth are already stained enough from my sad caffeine habit. Also, last time I checked, they were up to almost $4.50 a pack.

But God, how I miss it.

There’s very little more PERFECT in this world than a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other.


peg said...

Get. Off. My. Wavelength. This post is blog porn, is what it is. Write about it all you want -- we're all grownups -- just don't start up again. And neither will I. I'll just bookmark this post for a cheap thrill every now and then.

Badger said...


I was never a habitual smoker. I smoked in fits and starts. Socially, when I was drinking, when I was depressed, that sort of thing. Always menthols. Never for long stretches of time. Haven't touched one in nearly 15 years.

And I miss it SO MUCH. I have actually been craving menthol cigarettes for the past entire YEAR, like some weird form of pica. I don't know if it's the perimenopause hormones or what. I find myself lingering in front of cigarette displays, checking to see if they have my favorite brand.

I haven't bought any yet.

But I might.

(And yes yes YES to the lighting-up sexiness! Of a couple of guys in particular! Gah!)

Gina said...

I may not want to kiss an ashtray, but I'm all over a hot guy who tastes of beer and cigarettes. Throw in the smell of a campfire, and I'll black out right now.

Some days there is nothing I'd like more than to go into a dark, dark bar, listen to classic rock on the jukebox, shoot pool, drink beer . . . and smoke.


blackbird said...

It's too funny -
I never recognize your quotations, but I knew that one almost word for word.

I learned to smoke whilst working in publishing, where I also taught myself to drink scotch.

Now there's a picture.

It was easy to quit both, probably on the same day - the day I became puking pregnant with Oldest.

Nowadays I have one of my mothers (or three, depending on current events) on Survivor night, when she comes to dinner.

Sarah Louise said...

PC or no PC, my first kiss was a smoker. I have always wanted to just smoke one ciggy, but smoking actually makes it harder to bounce back from depression, so I'll stick to my rum and Cokes.

lazy cow said...

After being violently ill after smoking several Marlboros and many cocktails earlier this year, I'll never touch them again. I really do hate everything about smoking, apart from the taste, which I loved (but I was never a 'real' smoker).

tut-tut said...

What a great post; I suspect there are many out there in the ether who relish a whiff of second-hand smoke now and again. I remember Old Golds, and, in more sophisticated moments, Parliament 100s (also in college), bought from a cigarette machine ON COLLEGE PREMISES!

BabelBabe said...

Peg (Mrs. Peg now, if you other guys didn't know that), blog porn? That made me laugh out loud. Thx.

Blackbird, the boy who broke my heart drank Scotch when he smoked - or the other way around. Of course, he also wore a tweed sports jacket with leather elbow patches, and ripped-up jeans, so let's ALL question his judgment, shall we? Where the hell were you all when I was 18, huh?

SL -I hate to say this but one cig won't convey their glory. So unless you feel like developing a full-fledged habit, I have to say you are not really missing anything.

TT/Badge - My mom smoked Kools, so that's what I always think of. But I myself remain loyal to Camel.

Anonymous said...

I smoked for 7 years. I quit when I moved in with Josh. To this day, I miss it.

Amy said...

I don't smoke. I have, on occasion bummed one when I've had a bit to drink, but I probably haven't smoked a total of two packs in my life. But sometimes when I dream, I'm smoking in my dream. A friend of mine quoted from Dead Again, saying, "There are two kinds of people in this world: smokers and non-smokers. Figure out which one you are and BE THAT." She thinks I'm really a smoker who just chooses not to smoke. Perhaps. I just absolutely can't stand the stench of it on me (or anyone else) and I couldn't for the life of me afford the habit if I wanted to.

David said...

Smoking mad eyou SO cool. If I close my eyes I can see you puffing away.

Oh well, yet another thing like my 30 inch waist the world has learned to do without.

Anonymous said...

That was awesome. Quitting smoking was the best thing i ever did, but it's still sucks.

Major Bedhead said...

Oh man, this post sucked. It sucked because I've been craving a cigarette for weeks now and haven't given in. Yet. I miss smoking. I miss the sight of the smoke curling around my head. I miss the smell of it and I confess to inhaling deeply on the rare occassions I walk by someone who's smoking.


Anonymous said...

Heavens, this could almost be called a smoking-friendly zone. I haven't felt this at home for years!

Yes, I smoke. I smoke and smoke and smoke. I love my zippo, I love the smell, I have Cigarette Cool down to a fine art. I would be lost (and fat) without it. My friends and family drop dead of cancer all around, but I handle it all.....

because I smoke.


Caro said...

I can't share with you what I miss. It is even more politically incorrect than smoking. :)

Rogue Librarian said...

You know I never habitually smoked, but I certainly saw the appeal. I would occasionally smoke in college. Not often mind you but occasionally. I never really dug it for the nicotine high or anything like that. The truth is it was usually the allure of those seven minutes it took to smoke the cigarette. It was like a short seven minute vacation where I could shut out the world and just concentrate on this one sensation. It was a moment of Zen for me. Nowadays I get that by playing chess, but that’s way less cool.