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Topic #6
How the heck can you stick that thing in your mouth?




If I had a dime for every person who asked me that question, I'd have enough to buy a carton of cigarettes. For you non smokers out there, that's about $30 for the cigarettes that I normally smoke.
So, all of you gutter-minds out there who thought that this was going to be about something kinky… sorry to disappoint you. My only oral fixation is tobacco.

You see, I love tobacco. I smoke cigars, I smoke a pipe, and I also smoke cigarettes.

As much as I love tobacco, I am extremely selective about what I will smoke. Take the cigarettes that I smoke.Usually, it's Nat Sherman cigarettes, because they are all natural. Sometimes it's Export A or Gitanes. Never Marlboro, Camel, Winston or any of the other mass produced addiction sticks out there.

Now, don't get me wrong… I know that cigarettes are unhealthy. I know that they stink. I also know that since I smoke about a pack a month, the damage that I am doing to myself is relatively minor.

I am an asthmatic. Due to the cardio exercise that I do as part of by boxing training, my asthma has become clinically non-existent. The smoking has never touched off an asthma attack for me. I take my vitamins and anti-oxidants. I know I am increasing my risk of cancer. However, I have done my research (primarily the British Journal of Medicine, as it has the most fair-handed research&#41… and an occasional smoker only increases his/her chance of cancer by a small percentage. It's a calculated risk, but the time I spend with with a cigar, pipe or even a cigarette is worth the risk to me.

Like I said, I'm a smoker, not an addict.

You see, I don't think that I could get addicted to cigarettes. It's not because of any self-righteous "mind over matter" bullshit. The reason that I can't get addicted to cigarettes is because I couldn't afford the addiction. I smoke Nat Sherman cigarettes: $4.25 per pack (also, the cigars I smoke are $7-10 each&#41. If I was addicted to Nat Shermans, figuring the average addict smokes 2 packs a day, that's 60 packs per month. If the average pack (bought in bulk&#41 is $4.00, that's $240 per month. Sorry, I prefer spending under $20 per month on my tobacco.

So, why do I smoke? Because I like it… that's the same reason that I drink scotch and why I work on this website, and why I do everything in life.

Life is way too short not to enjoy every minute that we have left. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

I remember birthday parties and other family gatherings in the 1970's — everybody smoked…and in the house! Nobody worried about smelling up the drapes. We made ashtrays in kindergarten for Father's Day. When we spent part of summer vacation at our grandparents house on Cape Cod, my sister and I would often have to fetch my grandpa his ashtray, the ashtray made up of a round piece of silver with two pelicans standing on it. I always found it fascinating that the pelicans' beaks were the part of the ashtray that was supposed to hold the cigarettes.

All of this smoking clouding up my childhood, and yet I didn't even try a cigarette until a year ago. I was such a goody two shoes in high school that I couldn't even hold a cigarette for one of those girls who smoked in the bathroom while she tied her shoe. So there I was in 1997, going to bars and feeling like I was missing something. Everyone had a cigarette, it seemed. You just needed something to do with your hands for all that time.

My first pack of cigarettes were unfiltered Gitanes, and still ever the awkward smoker, I was paranoid that I was doing it wrong. So much so that I didn't even want to smoke in public for the longest time because I thought I looked like I was faking it. After I finally started ignoring my paranoia attacks, our friend Toshi looked at me smoking one night and immediately laughed and called me a poser, accusing me of not really inhaling. He could tell, or so he says, by the color of the smoke when I exhaled. I pouted. Told you I was doing it wrong. (I've practiced since then, and I'm happy to say that I don't do it wrong anymore!&#41

That first pack of Gitanes lasted me for about a year. I have been surrounded by smoke and smokers all of my life, and let me tell you, that clinging smell of stale smoke on my just-washed jeans the morning after still repulses me. But I smoke, nevertheless! Hmmm…what a contradiction. I smoke socially (read: once a week or less&#41, but I don't crave cigarettes in the meantime. I'm not addicted to them. According to our vice-free (ha!&#41 government, I should be addicted right about now, and well on the road to lung cancer.

Well, listen to this, US anti-smoking campaign! As of the last time I saw him, my father was smoking, like, 2 or 3 packs a day! He wouldn't buy one carton at a time, he would buy 3 or 4! Guess what? He doesn't have cancer! He doesn't have cancer and I'm not addicted to nicotine. So where do we fit into the statistics? 

Posted in Topics of the Week (1990s).

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