Monday, October 15, 2012


When I was in college, about half of my friends smoked. I envied them this habit.

Don't get me wrong: I didn't want to smoke. Yuck. I never even flirted with puffing. And I flirted with the guys who came to theater parties despite having been graduated. Or oddly mustachioed.  So, hello bar?  You are low.

Thing is, my mother's hacking cough was anything but a siren song. Also? I spent my childhood swimming around in the blue haze of Mom's secondhand smoke. Last night's ash settling in your Lucky Charms when you flump into an easy chair for Saturday morning cartoons is a big, big turnoff

But! In college? The culture that surrounded smoking was utterly intoxicating to a suburban rube like me. Rewind your minds a little, here.  I'm not talking about the modern-day lone forty-something huddling twenty yards from an entrance, like the building has taken out a restraining order against her.

No, I'm talking about nascent, attractive pseudo-adults, leaning together in a darkened corner.  The gentlemanly provision of a light, an invitation to break from a tense situation.  It seemed especially romantic when the smoker whipped out a pack of Gauloises, or cloves.

God, the scent of a clove cigarette can actually transport me to 1993. So, eff you Marty McFly. I don't need a flux capacitor or 1.21 gigawatts.  Nope.  All I need is Djarum to jump back twenty years.

Anyway, I didn't have a parallel addiction that allowed me to pause from the hustle and bustle, or the opportunity to exhibit some Old School Manners. All I really had was my Dr. Pepper addiction.  And how was I going to cool-ify that?  Carry it around in a flask?  That's just gross. And purposeless.  It would totally go flat.  And that just seemed like a metaphor I didn't want to invite.  "Hey, handsome. Care to share my Dr. Pepper? It may have gotten a little stale in this here demijohn."

So, from the other side of the door, I envied the casual conversation, the flame-lit porch, the opportunity to break from busy-ness for two minutes.

But, in retrospect? I don't so much envy the black lung. Though I hope like hell it didn't cause any of my compatriots any sneaky, surreptitious, lasting effects.

Everyone should know that it PAINED me to link to a Wikipedia article on Marty McFly and, tangentially, "Back to the Future." But, investigation around the office revealed it was necessary.  Seriously, it's like being born after 1980 means that you are scrubbed of appreciation of Robert Zemeckis' ouevre.

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