Chapter 74: Thank you for Smoking

First off, a disclaimer: I’m not really a smoker.

I’ve smoked before, I know what it’s like and I understand the buzz it gives you. It’s kind of neat, a little feeling of light-headedness that passes after about five minutes. The smell isn’t too tasty, and it stinks up your clothes. My throat is raspy afterwards too, and I don’t really like that. Overall I’m glad I don’t make a habit of it for several reasons, not the least being that whole lung cancer thing. In any event, whether I do or I don’t doesn’t change what I think of the action itself.

Smoking is one of the best ways to meet interesting strangers.

Take, for example, the guy standing on a street corner. His hands are in his pockets and his eyes lazily wander around the objects on the street. He has no real purpose, but there’s a reason he’s there. He could be waiting for someone to pick him up, to meet someone, to pick out his next victim, etc. No one can be sure.

On the other hand, a smoker has an obvious reason for being there. They’re having a smoke. They’re not required to have any other reason to exist. A cigarette is a small sign that says “I’m content to just stand here; I require no other purpose.”

Smoking forces you to stop. It forces you to stand outside and look around. Clear your mind. Suddenly you’re standing next to five other clear-minded people that just took an upper. Conversation can happen because … well … you’re all standing there anyway. The smoke circle is a shared experience, and shared experiences bring down social barriers to conversation.

I won’t get into the significance of the offering of a light or a cigarette, but both are like holding a door for someone and then getting to stand and chat about it.

Smoking kills babies, mothers and children, and in the end probably some people I know. It’s a horrible horrible thing, and I should go to hell for advocating it where children can read what I’ve written.

I can name three things that let men talk to each other without the fear of feeling weird: beer, smoking and campfires. Social crutches they may be, it seems to work.

One Reply to “Chapter 74: Thank you for Smoking”

  1. http://www.harpers.org/TheLittleRedPack.html

    Thank the gods that someone gets it.

    “People often ascribe the inability to quit smoking to a weak will. In reality, it is well known that many great men smoked, like Churchill, Mao Zedong, etc. The smokers all around us now are also people of outstanding character. They have a great deal of determination and strength. The courage that they show in the face of unforeseen events—a courage that many nonsmokers are unable to muster—is unforgettable.

    Look at what we know about dictators: Louis XIV, Napoleon, and Hitler all abhorred smoking. Napoleon once instituted a countrywide smoking ban. Dictators are completely opposed to people gratifying their desires. Hitler harbored a rigid, fierce hatred of smoking. The only person whom he allowed to smoke in his presence was Mussolini.”

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