Posts Tagged 'camel'

A Smoker’s History: Volume 3

Follow up to A Smoker’s History: Volume 2

My oldest friend (since second grade! Note to self: write about distinction of friends one day) was in town for the semester, having graduated a semester early and waiting to go to grad school. He was a smoker. He didn’t give me shit for smoking roll-ups, but once I’d run out, we (him, myself, and two others), decided to attempt to master cleanse ourselves. It was great for the week it lasted, but we were back smoking the day we were done. I normally stuck with American Spirits, all natural as they’re said to be, and he claimed he couldn’t imagine a “disgusting Camel” after that cleanse. Good, I guess.

But then the yellow American Spirits got old and boring and gross. He brings a pack of Lucky Strikes from Europe after going to see his girlfriend, and immediately I was in love.

Most smokers like Lucky Strikes (am I wrong?). There’s something about the whole toasted flavor thing that really does the trick. Not just the taste but the texture of the smoke inside your mouth, engulfing your lungs… Something about it is just delicious. Rumors said there was cardboard in the filters, thus the reasoning for their termination of sales in the States; but I’ve found no such evidence in my little bit of research–all I’ve found out was that they weren’t selling too well in the States anymore, so they took off. Granted, the cigarette’s new distributor British American Tobacco may very well have taken care of that evidence of the cardboard, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Now: imagine that smooth taste & texture of the Lucky Strike. Yum. Now imagine it after an eight month smoking career of boring, as-natural-as-it-gets tobacco– no chemicals for flavor, no preservatives to make it burn more enjoyably, nothing. This Lucky Strike was GOOD.

After that night, there was a tingling sensation in the back of my mind that while I was smoking my Spirits, I COULD be smoking cigarettes with taste… Thus a few weeks later when I began dating artist_girl, who smoked Camels, it was no surprise to me when I woke up one morning and drove hung-over to the pharmacy to buy a two-for-one-point-five pack of Camel lights. After a month of that, I switched over to a coworker’s preferred brand of Camel Turkish Golds. Delicious, almost reminding me of that night of the Lucky Strike… He said everyone up north smoked them, but down here in Southern California it may as well be Camel’s abused middle child. For the same price, too.

So that was my brand for awhile. I guess it still is, in a manner of speaking. I smoked Lucky Strikes straight and through the two months I was in Mexico, and brought two cartons back to the states (and one carton of Gauloises bleus, bad idea). I fell in love with them again and couldn’t imagine how any Mexican nor American tourist found them “too strong” and preferred Marlboros. Maybe ‘twas a marketing thing: you could only find Lucky Strikes at the Oxxos (7-11s) in any case. Sometimes it was quite a chore to go buy cigarettes as I refused to buy anything else, despite my level of intoxication.

Now here I am, puffing away on the first pack of the carton of ‘Strikes that some visitors from Mexico brought me as a gift. There were a few moments of contemplation last week, smoking a pack of American Spirits I bought for the hell of it after I found a pack outside my house and rather enjoyed it, when I thought of going back to rolling the old Spirits, getting that good old headrush like those first days. The days when it wasn’t an addiction or craving but an experience that required a little finesse from my soul to make it worth the smoke.

Finesse from the soul? The reader asks. Yes, finesse from the soul. I’m a believer in fighting that twentieth century urge to just let it be more convenient; putting some moi into it makes anything physically healthier. If the soul gets exercise, the whole being benefits. One can look at this in many different terms, but I think a universal aspect notable in many facets of life is that great feeling you get after a good exercise sesh, or after cleaning the house all day, or after cooking your dinner, or after doing your homework, or after taking care of something really important at work…

You cared about something, poured a part of you into it, and saw great results. Thus making the physical benefits, productive feelings, or nourishment that much more alive and reputable within yourself.

Case in point, it’s still smoking; but at least it works that much differently inside.


A Smoker’s History: Volume 2

This follows A Smoker’s History: Volume 1.

Later that legendary day when I bought my first pack of tobacco, I was at a bar and a fellow wannabe smoker buddy of mine and I decided to go outside to go roll a cigarette. We sat there in the dark passing it back and forth, using fresh papers, dropping the tobacco… It took us half an hour to roll that goddam cigarette. Two cute French chicks walked by while we were in the process and one asked us to borrow some tobacco; as they walked away with me staring at them, I noticed she had the cigarette rolled by the time she turned the corner fifteen paces away. There was clearly something we were missing.

I lost the pack somewhere on the way back, along with a few of the filters and the papers. Thank the gods, I thought to myself. I didn’t take any action for about a week, since I figured that’s how long it would have lasted me (as a nonsmoker: yeah, right) and I couldn’t afford to blow another six euros like that right away. So that time after that week had passed I just bought Marlboro lights. A couchsurfer had gotten me into them, offering them everywhere we went; so I just took a liking to them..

I’ll speed up the story: so I began rolling my cigarettes more and more (sticking to American Spirits only); and finally, in Germany, the boyfriend of the sister of the guy that I met at the airport waiting for the bus finally taught me how to officially do it, making sure the tobacco content was equal all the way through. Then a simple wrap of your outstretched index finger, and you have a rolled cigarette. It was so much easier to smoke, and I actually retracted the gift I’d given him fifteen minutes earlier of what was left of my tobacco and papers, saying I couldn’t handle it.

So that was it for Europe. I came home and after my welcome home dinner had to tell the folks I was off to smoke a cigarette (since that’s what I DO now, mom), and my dad asked me what else I was rolling inside as he walked out onto the patio. I chuckled. Halfheartedly.

Now I’d like to mention that during the first few weeks of said summer I only smoked three or four rolled cigarettes per day; even if I were drinking, things weren’t too different. I got my tobacco injection, and I was content. I never craved a cigarette: I merely wanted to smoke once in a while, so I did.

And then I ran out of filters and papers, so while I awaited my great friend back in Paris to come with my smoking goods, I smoked the black packs of American Spirits (this was the closest to the rolled ones in intensity), moving on to yellow and blue. Cigarettes were becoming so much easier to push down; I noticed I was smoking a few more than four per day… But then my filters and papers came, and since I still had discipline and morals at the time, I began rolling them again. This lasted all the way until late September, when I ran out of tobacco, papers, and filters while I was in Vermont, en route to Costa Rica after a school orientation.

Arriving in central America, things changed. Drastically. Hanging out with two Austrians on the organic farm on which I was working didn’t help me trying to not smoke so much. Long story short, within three weeks I was chain smoking like I’d never before. Like I’d never even imagined. A pack of smokes was but a dollar, why not smoke a pack per day? Then came the Swiss, and this new habit couldn’t even take the time to see where it was going: it just went. When I went off solo to Nicaragua for about a week, I was hoping that without the influence I wouldn’t do it so much. I didn’t want to do it at all, until the freeways closed down due to flooding and I found myself stuck with three Ticos and a Welshman drinking and smoking the afternoon away at a nearby bar.

I met up with the Europeans once again in Nicaragua, and voilà. I smoked until I came home. Come day after Halloween in the legendary college town of Isla Vista, I found myself as “that guy” who needed a cigarette, begging his best friend’s girlfriend to run home to grab her pack of yellow spirits. I started rolling again soon after that, and albeit that I smoked more than four per day, I still stand by the fact that it’s cheaper and healthier. And what happens late January? I run out of supplies once again.

This is where I officially became a smoker. Stay tuned for part three, coming soon…

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Another twenty some odd young adult who believes he sees things from a unique perspective. Here be my poetry & prose, short stories, favored school papers, rantings, and "blogs." Comment, critique, and profit.