Oh, how I once longed to smoke.
Truly. When I was in college I tried sober in a coffee shop; I tried drunk in Mexico, I put some serious effort into picking up the habit. There was something alluring about the intense inhale followed by that seductive plume curling from someone’s mouth.
Smokers had an air about them, and I wanted into that air.
I know, that’s funny because there was little actual air in a smoky bar, but I didn’t care. We’re all dying anyway, right?
Smokers defied the basic need for the fresh outdoors, maybe even clean water, at least for barely-twenty-something me.
They were the cool people with tired eyes and worn out jeans. They read bigger books, were better lovers, felt deeper. The definition of tortured artist or elusive poet.
The power of advertising, entertainment, and popular opinion, I suppose.
Never has the phrase, “What comes up, must go down,” been more appropriate. The fall was mighty. Smokers seemed to go from James Dean to a sad sideshow freak sent outside the tent near the elephant poop.
They are under glass at airports and scoffed at for that same cigarette that once dangled so seductively from Marlene Dietrich’s lips.
Smoking is no longer used in commercials, or seen in entertainment, save Quinten Tarantino films and Mad Men. It’s the leper habit now, the dirty little secret.
Don’t get me wrong, the smoke cleared from my eyes eventually and I realized all the coughing and yucky morning afters were a sign I was never going to be badass enough to hold down a serious addiction.
I am grateful these many years later because I have plenty of vices without wearing a patch or chewing gum. My lungs, although we don’t talk, are probably happy too.
I no longer want to be a smoker, but it is bizarre how something so accepted, celebrated even during certain eras, could suddenly become relegated to the lonely street corners in front of corporate buildings.
I suppose we could say part of the turn was due to death and education, but that seems a little flimsy because there are plenty of things we humans still do willingly that lead to illness and death.
No, I think behind all the indignation and fist pumping that smokers are awful, horrible, environment polluters is the simple fact that they fell out of fashion. Society decided smoking was no longer a “thing” and banned it from the land of normal along side driving without a seatbelt, skiing sans the helmet, and SPAM.
Huh, I wonder what will be shunned from the cool kids’ table next?
I recently read that alcohol is responsible for more deaths than prescription opioids, heroin, and cocaine combined. Maybe that’s up for villain, although my fingers are crossed that someone exposes the ugly truth about cardio or kale.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Late Night.