Smoking Is Cool

I know I’ll probably go to hell for saying it, but smoking cigarettes looks so cool. I haven’t smoked in almost twenty years, and I only have the faintest of yearnings for tobacco–I can’t even stand to be in a smoky bar for an evening–but that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss it.

I quit smoking for these reasons: It gave me bad breath. It made my clothes smell bad. It made my teeth yellow. And fewer and fewer people were doing it. That’s it! Not because it would kill me. Or kill other people. Those sorts of warnings never made a big impression on me. I even knew people who were dying from emphysema. Nope–hardly any impression at all. Of course, when I had kids a few years later, my attitude changed immediately. No one was allowed to smoke within sixty yards of little Pomegranate!

In the 1960s and early 1970s, it seemed that everyone smoked. Most everyone in my family did. Most everyone we knew did. And in the movies–well, ALL the cool people smoked in the movies. William Powell and Myrna Loy, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Tippi Hedren (am I the only one who didn’t know that Melanie Griffith is her daughter?!). It’s tougher to come up with characters in books who smoke–unless you’re talking Jim Thompson novels. I think it was a requirement that they all smoked. Any thoughts? And isn’t it usually now only the shady characters in books and films who smoke?

Smoking gives a person something to do with her hands, something to gesture with. Something to do when things get dull. And it’s just not the same to unwrap that stick of Juicyfruit after sex!

Despite the contemporary pogrom against smokers, I still see lots of people who smoke. I watched a woman come out of the gym today, pause at the door, and light up. Now that the local hospital’s entire campus is smoke free, I see pairs of scrub-wearing nurses, doctors, orderlies, maintenance workers on the sidewalk “good health walking trails” in the neighborhood around the hospital. But I wonder how folks are paying for their cigarettes. Although, when one thinks about it,a carton of Salem cigarettes from an online discounter is only about thirty dollars–Half of what it takes to fill up our Camry. Hm. Now it’s starting to sound like a bargain!

I remember reading that in hard economic times women purchase cosmetics like lipsticks at a higher than average rate. They’re small purchases, but still provide some satisfaction for their hunter/gatherer inclinations. I wonder if we’ll see smoking rise now, since cigarettes are a bargain and people are getting stressed out.

I used to keep a single glass ashtray around for my dear mother in law to use when she visits, but it got lost in the move to Illinois. Last time she was here, I could only dig up a cut-glass wine coaster. But it seemed to do the trick.

If you ever come by, you’re welcome to use it. On the porch. I’ll probably be hanging around you, sniffing up the glamour! *sigh*

3 thoughts on “Smoking Is Cool”

  1. Hell, yes, smoking is cool. I gave up three and a half years ago (after smoking for 12 years) because it was literally making me sick, but I’d always loved it. I missed them when they were gone, it was like the death of an old friend.

    And I don’t think there’s anything cooler (or hotter) than Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, leaning back on the truck with a cigarette in his mouth. Hmmm, I might watch that movie again this weekend.

  2. Laura says:

    I wholeheartedly support your film idea–you have excellent taste! I’ll bring the popcorn and we can swoon together!

  3. Hey lovely Laura,

    Totally agreed on this one. Damn, that Steve McQueen — too cool. I tried to smoke once and set my bangs on fire (very dangerous as hell in the 80s when hairspray was my best friend). I love The Exorcist because even the doctors smoke in their office.

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