Unfortunately, I don’t smoke cigarettes. I’ve tried them. I’ve smoked cigars. I’ve smoked shisha, all to no end. My lungs are pink and virile, my fingertips uncolored, and my front teeth are stained only by blueberry juice…but every time I see someone light up a cigarette, I feel a warm flush of jealousy, a desire to belong to that secret society. I want to be embraced by tobacco companies, coddled in the warmth of smoking rooms – I want all of it – and more. Why?
The modern smoker is a prepared soldier in our fossil-fuel burning, techno-crazy world.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to smoking, other than the infallible ‘rebel’ image, is the easy access to fire. Our caveman ancestors worked hard to discover and invent fire, and we dishonor that memory by not keeping the flame alive. However, like true outdoorsmen, smokers often keep a handy supply of lighters and matches around. And when stranded without a ‘light’, smokers have an uncanny sense of direction to find the nearest lighter. Whenever I’m lost at sea and find myself stranded on a deserted island with a couple of my plucky friends, I strap myself to the nearest smoking female and start making out. If there are no girls around, well, you don’t want to know what I’ll do…
It’s only happened twice to me last year.
Television and movies have taught me the advantage to smoking cigarettes in a fight. There are a surprising variety of moves you can do with a lit cigarette; in fact, I’ve heard a small group of Peruvian rebels have invented an entire martial art based on the cigarette. The mind quickly rejects such a ludicrous notion…until you witness a man break an arm with the filter-end of a Marlboro.
Definitely the best aspect of developing a healthy smoking habit, is that, unless you’re suffering from the inevitable long-term effects, it’s fucking cool. No denial, please. Smoking gives you that kink in the hips while waiting for the bus, and smoking in a bar makes it seem like you’ve got business on the run.
Smoking while reading a book…well, that’s sheer genius, as if the nicotine is fusing deep in your brain to help you muddle through the deep symbolism of another Rushdie novel. Yessah, any activity can be augmented by the simple act of lighting up and inhaling. No amount of anti-propaganda will ever be able to erase the memory of Robert de Niro, James Dean, Marlon Brando or Humphrey Bogart from our collective memory of cool.
And nothing, a devilishly sinister nothing, will ever remove the images of Bo Derek, Selma Hayek, Raquel Welch and Demi Moore from my comprehensive and scintillating memories of fantasy. These are women that transcend the intangible idea of cool…combining hypnotizing beauty with the confidence and self-assurance of smoking.
One more role model? Welcome to Québec. René Lévesque, founder of the Parti québécois in 1967, chain smoked viciously, blowing dense clouds of fog into the eyes of the English politicians.
Denial of the horrible side effects is impossible; there is a heavy price to pay for a lifetime smoking, and that dark road is littered with pain and suffering. Is it a price worth it? What purpose is a life that is mired in boredom and involuntary conservatism?
I, for one, am sure that if I had started smoking when I was 12, by now, I’d be 2 inches taller, 10% better looking, a little faster on the track, and stronger in the gym. I’d have more friends, and my friends would buy me presents. I’d go for a road trip to Louisiana in my new BMW convertible with a beautiful, adoring girl by my side, and smooth jazz draining out of the speakers; smoke rising and adding to the fibrous clouds in the otherwise clear sky…and we’d only stop so that I could kneel by the side of the road to rasp and cough up thick wads of phlegm.
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