Posts Tagged 'tobacco'

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 1

Smoke enough cigarettes in any day, complement that with at least three cups of coffee (I limit it to three and a half, though I’m positive we have six and seven and eight cuppers out there), and you just won’t be too hungry. There will come a time when you will begin to shake and you realize you need to satisfy that dull grumbling in your stomach, silenced with the seventh cigarette at three in the afternoon; so you’ll grab a croissant or something small that sounds like it’d go well with—wait for it—coffee.  Sweets normally won’t do it, you know you need fats so you smear some mayonnaise and or hot sauce on that croissant (we love hot sauce because it loosens up the face). Smoke a nice spliff with a beer after that commute home from work or after that last three hour Wednesday night class that you’re already sick of after two weeks, and you won’t need to eat again before passing out to sleep. Get up early, run and have a yoga sesh by 9:30 in the morning, make a healthy, hearty breakfast, and start all over. Hello weight loss.

This is coming from a fairly inexperienced cigarette smoker; I’ve been a true smoker for around eight months now. I started smoking near the end of my year in Europe, when I would just WANT to smoke. In a lifestyle with no work and little school, I can honestly admit that I’m surprised it didn’t come sooner with the amount of smoke ever-present around me.

On January 1, 2008 France passed a law prohibiting smoke inside restaurants or bars or tabacs. I saw this as a great thing (what a perfect word- thing) for nonsmokers who went out to clubs, as we could hardly keep our eyes open in the stinging heat of the smoky dance floors. As far as cafes and tabacs went, however, even as a nonsmoker I wasn’t too thrilled about that (side note: in France, a tabac is basically a tobacco store; all with the same red sign hanging outside, they sell all sorts of smokables from cigarettes to rolling papers. Some of them are purely walk in, buy and leave; while others are actually little cafes where you can get a coffee or beer). One thing I remember the most about those first few weeks of culture shock was the smoking inside these social places, where all sorts of people would stop in their local tabac for a quick espresso and a smoke while chatting with the owner and whoever else may have been inside. I remember not having the gall to sit inside after I’d picked up George R.R. Martin’s illustrated novel and wanted to sit somewhere and read it—maybe because I didn’t smoke, maybe because I didn’t speak French; who knows, at this point?

So come April one morning after a night of drinking [quality, healthy beer] I awoke around nine in the morning, comme d’habitude and I just wanted to smoke. I’d already began puffing away here and there while away in other Western European countries (smoked my first Lucky Strike in Spain—almost threw up. Bought Marlboro lights in Stockholm to get me through my ennui, and on top  of all this I had begun rolling spliffs about a month prior with whatever tobacco I could get my hands on from a neighbor, a roommate, or someone on the street), but it was still more of a drunk thing (that’s how we all start in college, isn’t it?). My problem was the minimal Bukowski I’d read at the time, paired with the French lifestyle [of coffee, croissant, and cigarettes until lunch] that I’d witnessed day after day, on top of the fact that I was still very concerned with my physical appearance (that’s a story for another post). So I walked to my local tabac, bought some Camel rolling tobacco and papers and filters, and walked home. I sat at my kitchen table rolling for about twenty minutes before producing a smokable result, and since the roommates weren’t home I sparked it right there.

The thing about smoking rolled cigarettes, even with a filter, is that it’s a stronger tobacco rush. Until you’ve been doing it for a month, at least, when someone teaches you how to wrap your fingers around it well enough to make it a tight smoke that doesn’t destroy you with tobacco rush, and not so tight that you can’t smoke it. The art furthers when you work on rolling marijuana into these rolled cigarettes with papers twice as long: that’s called a spliff. In either case, your goal is to make the paper tight and taught around whatever’s inside, and but not so tight you get a headrush by trying to inhale. Europeans have some natural instinct that makes them master rollers of any sort; it’s almost freaky. One handed, backwards, inverted… I’ll go out on a limb by calling it the most unappreciated yet most celebrated art in Western culture.

So I’m sitting there sucking on my rolled cigarette and drinking dark coffee with a little half and half, feeling like tough shit there in my dumpy little flat in Aix-en-Provence overhanging a street drenched in the smell of scooter exhaust, when the first headrush comes. I sat there still, trying to hold myself from throwing up like after that first spliff I’d ever smoked (note to self: write about this). I had to light it again after I’d waited for it to wear off, and by four puffs into it, needing to relight its poorly rolled infrastructure every minute, I realized I needed a lot of practice: but I WANTED to roll my cigarettes (healthier + cheaper, what better excuse would a wannabe smoker need?), so I would keep it going. This marks the beginning of my smoker-dom.

Stay tuned for part two…

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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.