Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Memo to the World, Number Two, on smoking

Memo to the World, Number Two:

The next time that you are out and about and you happen to meet someone who is enjoying a cigarette, try something that goes against the prevailing wisdom. Don’t hold your breath and hurry by. Don’t make funny noises or wave your hand as if invisible mosquitoes are swarming around you.

Smile. Stop a moment. Exchange pleasant greetings. Linger for a moment, if the vibes are right. Be nice. Having been conditioned to think that smokers are subhuman, you will probably be surprised to find that you are slipping easily into conversation with someone who is quite intelligent and friendly. The endorphins generated from making a new friend will add much more to your life than a little smoke supposedly ever takes away.

Smokers, male and Female, have been my best friends, all my life, and I haven’t necessarily planned it that way. From lovely Darlene, mentioned here before, to a certain sweet man who taught me so much about photography and another male friend who has now moved to another state but was as gentle and kind a person as one could ever meet – to the many sweet Ladies on this blog who also enjoy the company of Lady Nicotinia …

… and I must tell you about the man who played Santa Claus.

He was first my Boy Scout “master” –- that’s what they call the long-suffering adults who are in charge of a Boy Scout troop. I don’t know if he was paid for his labors – if he was, it couldn’t have been enough.

He played Santa Claus one year at some Boy Scout get-together and I noticed him slip outside to smoke a cigarette. Some uptight person also noticed and made a rude comment that I’m sure he heard and I’m sure hurt deeply. Something about the inappropriateness of Santa smoking. Guess they never read the Night Before Christmas.

He passed away not much later – a few years, if I remember right, of a sudden heart attack. Maybe smoking contributed, or his slight weight problem, or years of stress as a military man, or perhaps his age – he was white-haired, although I never knew how old he was. I was very young myself but I went to his funeral and I said good things about him, because even then I recognized what makes a man great.

I will hold smoking against no man or Woman. If it is a good cigar or a pipe, I will savor the scent of it even if you are a fellow man. If You are a Lady, well, You can smoke anything slightly less pungent than a burning vacuum cleaner belt and I will fall over myself not to offend or disturb You.

If the day comes that you decide to quit, I will be right there to cheer you on as well.

Dedicated to the memory of D.F., a great man.
Second photo printed by permission of: IDRC CRDI, Photographer: N. Kumar


Open Grove Claudia said...

I love smoking. If it didn't kill me (or give me wrinkles), I'd be smoking right this moment. MMMMM....

I hurry by smokers because I might just tackle them for their smokes. It's only been 12 years since I smoked...

PixieDust said...

What a thoughtful post, a beautiful memory of a childhood hero in both Santa and the man who brought to Santa to life. Everyone demands smokers to be considerate (which they should, yes? Don't get me wrong), but I admire the consideration you give in return.

I must admit to smoking a pipe at least once a week (which delights my husband no end). I call it my hobbit pipe, as the bowl is small; the handle about 6 inches with a slight curve like a swan arching forward. A lovely sweet tobacco wafts about me, as I take in the night air, and the last of the hummingbirds as they make their way to their nests. I ponder over much beauty while I puff away, and even over the ritual of caring for it when I'm done so that the wood stays rich and true.


...amarpreet said...

I used to be an occassional smoker, never developed that addiction and only rarely now smoke while at a pub with friends. I am the type to slow my pace but sadly cannot anymore for fear of a headache.

Lizza said...

Thank you for not looking at smokers as subhumans.

Many of us try to be considerate; I, for one, smoke only in the designated areas.

And when I finally decide to quit, it's good to know you'll be there to cheer me on.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Good point. No one deserves to be treated poorly for no other reason than the habit of smoking.

I don't smoke. But I used to, and the smell of cigarette smoke makes me sick. I love the smell of a good pipe and I really like some cigars. Good cigars.

But the fact that someone is smoking has nothing to do with how they should be treated. I believe quite strongly that people should be known by their merit as a human, by their actions and decisions, and should not be considered or regarded by any other factors.

Scarlett & V.

chipazoid said...

I think that's what a lot of non-smokers find hard to imagine. Smokers like me love everything about cigarettes, from the shape to the smell and taste, the way it looks as you hold it, the silhouette of the vapors escaping from someone lips. I'll even go a step further into the symbolism of fire at a human's fingertips.

Yes, I went there.

eastcoastdweller said...

Thank You for going there, Adena -- it's an important statement that needs to be expressed.

eastcoastdweller said...

Claudia: I guess You've got a good excuse not to linger -- wouldn't want anyone to press assault charges against You!

eastcoastdweller said...

Pixiedust: Thank You. You have a lucky husband and You are a lucky Wife, to enjoy that small indulgence together.

Empress: I'd pay everything in my bank account to find a cure for those damned headaches of Yours.

Lizza: I can't remember the last time a smoker was "inconsiderate" around me. And if She was as lovely as You, I'd not mind in the least.

Scarlett: Very true -- too much judging goes on, and in my opinion, that's more dangerous than the sweet aroma of burning leaves ever could be.