Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Tobacco is a dirty weed:
I like it.
It satisfies no normal need:
I like it.
It makes you thin, it makes you lean,
It takes the hair right off your bean.
It's the worst darn stuff I've ever seen:
I like it.

G.L. Hemminger, 1915

I'm a smoker, which these days is akin to being a leper, circa 1300 AD. I'd say that smokers are the new disadvantaged minority (every society has them) but that would cheapen the very real suffering of all the people who endured bigotry because of their race, religion, ancestry, ethnicity---that is, pretty much everyone at some time or place in history. I'm not a victim of Big Tobacco, either, nor do I want to be treated as such. Smoking is simply a choice I made, one that I continue to make every morning.

Why? Why risk the health consequences and endure social rejection when I could easily join the happy, smoke-free herd? Or why not switch to cigars and at least enjoy the aura of prosperity and sophistication that comes with, say, a Don Juan Capistrano Churchill #3?
Or use a pipe and buy into the image of the tweedy old-fashioned intellectual? 

Simple. I don't want to. I like my cigarettes. I enjoy the pleasure of a smoke and a cup of coffee when I want to relax. If that means I have to get up and walk outside from time to time, that's OK. Everything has a price. Living in a free society means you get to decide what's worth the going rate and what isn't.

There are some side benefits that come with smoking, too. Ironically, some of these exist because of the disdain in which smoking is held. For example, you often get to be alone when you smoke. When party conversation becomes tiresome, or when children's antics are a bit too much (which they can be no matter how much you love them) you've got a handy excuse for a break. When meetings reach the eye-rolling stage, ditto. It's also a great way to get rid of pompous, bigoted jerkoffs (Neal Boortz comes to mind) who insist on lecturing you about the faults in your character, contrasting them with their own moral and intellectual superiority. Just light up and they go away.

Smoking comes with responsibilities, of course, like every other choice. You want to be polite, not litter, and be careful about embers and such. Sometimes you have to come to accommodations with your spouse, as I did. Even when outdoors, with strangers, you should ask if they mind. It's just the right thing to do, even if the drunks and dopers feel free to inflict the consequences of their more popular vices on the rest of us, willy-nilly.* 

It's getting harder to be a smoker; lately there are more and more "Joe Camel" laws and rules to deal with. Campuses and shopping malls proudly proclaim themselves "smoke free" for reasons having nothing to do with health and everything to do with political correctness. It'd be fun and instructive to have a "smoke-in" at some campus, but it won't happen. Smokers typically take this crap with cringing obedience because, like most people, many are cowards, afraid of the bad opinion of others who care nothing for them in any case. Screw that. 

Maybe now that marijuana legalization is popular we smokers can fit in by rolling our own and pretending to get high.

Excuse me now. My coffee's ready and it's time for a break.

* For instance, read a little of this. If you want to be serious, try this.

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