Sunday, August 03, 2008

Smoking is Kool

This article in the NY Times this morning got me to thinking about cigarettes. They’re talking about banning or regulating flavors in cigs, like Menthol. I remember when I smoked. I started out with Eve, or Virginia Slims, which tasted like crap but looked cool when you held them. And that was what it was all about, right? How you looked when you had it in your hand, drew on it and blew it back out: mature, sophisticated, attractive. I went away to for a few months and took a carton of Now menthol cigarettes with me. They were advertised as ultra low tar, low nicotine. The reason was they had a filter like a piece of cement, you could barely suck the smoke through it. People would bum cigarettes from me and repeatedly check to see if they were lit.

I can’t remember how or why I first tried Newports. I had a leaning toward menthol already, I guess cause I didn’t like the taste of plain old tobacco. So why did I smoke? Why does anyone? Cause it’s cool.

I do remember trying Kools, they were harsh as nails, leaving my throat feeling raw and my head heavy. Salems were too light, too cool, it was like sucking in freezing cold air and felt too artificial. Marlboro Menthol? Don’t even get me started. They were like smoking dead leaves with a cough drop in your mouth.

But Newports, like the baby bear’s porridge, were just right; minty without being sweet, heavy duty without being harsh. I graduated to the box, it was a neat little package, a menthol Christmas gift I could buy myself, everyday. Best of all, I was cool.

When I finally quit smoking, I was hypnotized, but I guess I was ready to quit anyway. After attending a wedding where we’d been drinking champagne and smoking up a storm, I woke up to find my then boyfriend rolling his own cigarette from butts he was digging out of the trash. I never smoked again.

I still have dreams that I’m smoking. In them, I’m always upset with myself, thinking that now I’ll have to quit all over again. But it’s fun while it lasts, and I’m oh so cool again.

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