Up in Smoke or Only the Strange Survive

00:00 August 26, 2013
By: Phil LaMancusa

I took my first puffs of tobacco when I was eight. My mother, upon catching me mugging for the older kids, butt in my mouth, made me eat that cigarette. That cured me, or rather, made me sneakier. By thirteen, I was adept at stealing cigarettes; in those days, doctors/movie stars recommended smoking: brands like Old Gold, Chesterfield, Viceroy, Philip Morris, Juleps. Mom smoked Pall Mall straights; they were longer, and her waitress job had her picking up and putting down her cig to perform her tasks.

Son: “Mom, how old do I have to be before I can smoke?” Mother: “When you can pay for them yourself!” Eventually I would settle on Lucky Strike (unfiltered) as my butt of choice. In those days, you were identified and you identified yourself by the brand that you smoked. I was to go on smoking for fifty years, never quitting and never wanting to quit. Even in the old days, we called cigarettes “coffin nails,” so we knew what we were doing wasn’t good for us; however, we didn’t have Nicotine Nazis to worry us. I mean, would you encourage Humphrey Bogart back then or Johnny Depp now to snuff their butts? Julia Roberts? LeBron James? Heather Locklear? Keith Richards?

Of course nicotine isn’t good for you (take finely shredded vegetable matter, roll it up in thin paper, stick it in your mouth and light it on fire(!)…AND THEN…suck in the damn smoke); worse is when you blow that smoke around someone else (smoker or not) and subject them to death by cancer caused by secondhand smoke. But we have ways of dealing with smokers. Make them pay high taxes on their vice and not allow them to carry on their filthy habits in restaurants, bars, public buildings, parks, around children and expectant mothers, and now in their own homes. Do we outlaw (I love that word, a gerund really) tobacco? No. Do we outlaw marijuana? Yes. Does marijuana cause cancer? No.

Genetically modified foods, chemtrails, global warming, and the use of fossil fuels will kill the planet. We embrace assault weapons and alcohol, killers both. Wars kill our enemies and friends impartially. Are they against the law? No. Pesticides can cause cancer, lead in our soil can lead to brain farts, if your pets eat Round Up it’ll exterminate them. Legal? Yes. Obesity: should that become illegal, we wouldn’t have prisons enough to put away all the porkers around here.

We will prohibit reproductive rights, homosexuality, and certain immigrants. See it now: “I’m a transgender illegal alien and if you don’t give me birth control and a mammogram, I’m going to get drunk and go postal!!” Yeah.

(Why do we call them “aliens” if they’re from this planet?) Flowing in that same vein, prostitution is illegal (as well as elevating); I always picture freshly laid people as very happy folks, something that we’ll recommend to that gay Hispanic who just snuck across our borders.

How did I stop smoking? Like this: I get regular medical checkups, and I would always have to answer for my habit, explaining that I didn’t smoke much, and only at night and while drinking or on drugs (plus before, after, and during sex). On one appointment, I happened to get a young, intelligent, and attractive doctor who in the course of the examination asked that damnable question: “Are you a smoker?” Not wanting to go into my nicotine song and dance, I gazed into her large brown eyes and replied, “NO.”

Back on the street, walking home, I suddenly stopped in my tracks and realized that I had just lied to a woman that I could have easily fallen in love with; decided that I could not/would not ever do that, and my only alternative was to make that statement true. That was seven years ago. I have not smoked (cigarettes) since.

Concerning those nasty smokers, of whom I was one: with present legislation, we’re making it harder and harder for them to exercise their right to kill themselves with tobacco here. Illogically, however, we keep tobacco readily available. Sales may dwindle in the U.S.A., but tobacco companies compensate by marketing their products in other countries. The exceptions are cigars. We import those; it seems that it’s pretty hip to smoke something that looks like a turd or aboriginal penis and smells like horse manure. Whole magazines are devoted to that habit.

Trundle around with a deep-fried turkey leg, a concealed weapon, and carry a Bible, and you’re golden. Carry a Koran and a Marlboro, and you’re a double terrorist. Smoke in an airplane and your ass is getting taken away in handcuffs. Smoke in front of a pregnant woman and the punishment doubles, first offense: organ removal. I swear, there is no logic to this subject.

So why do we pick on smokers? I don’t hear about smokers robbing banks or jewelry stores, yet we always picture felons with fags (cigarettes), and by the way, why do we call cigarettes “fags”? Lung cancer is low in Arab countries, but they shoot each other at alarming rates (whew, at least they’re not breaking the law). Chinese women have high percentages of lung cancer, although very few smoke (pollution? Hmmm).

Personally, I have nothing against smokers; in fact, I’d like to apologize to them for all the flak they take from people who do nothing about our planet, its people or animal life, and yet who will take an opportunity to give grief to some Joe who just wants to light up a friggin’ Lucky. Sorry for that, guys. Go ahead, fire up that cancer stick; in the scheme of things, you’re really small potatoes.

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