One For The Lungs

One For The Lungs - A Vaper's Tale


1. FETISH

Forty Euros and it doesn’t even kill you? No, thank you! I've invested a lot of money in lung cancer and pulmonary heart disease and I'm not about to blow my investment now. E-cigarettes! Fuck! What's gone wrong with us when we want all the allure of smoking without the consequences? The Marketing of the Self. That's what it is. It's why chewing-gum or nicotine patches rarely work. They look over the fact that smoking is mostly about image, that smokers are just as addicted to the personality which holds the cigarette as they are to the additives within them. Cigarettes allow us to buy further into the persona we want to project – our internal hero. And because we figure it’ll take at least 30 years of smoking to even begin killing oneself, it’s become the safest, least reckless way to advertise a sense of self-abandon. Cigarettes are fetish and I‘m as guilty as anyone of using them as accessories.

One for the lungs and one for the fashion!

Oh, my beautiful words. The poetry of reckless and idiotic youth. A Marlboro poking out my breast pocket and another behind the ear. Sweeping onto the underground with my scarves aflap, smelling of snuffed dog-ends and some other perfume from some other lover. A wildness in my eyes, my gait. The last vestiges of smoke still drifting from my mouth. Standing tight up against the doors, impatiently flicking my lighter to a spark, revealing a person out to destroy himself, someone in a hurry to suck down another lungful of youthful demise. I've never known a heroin junkie who did not smoke; I wouldn't trust one who didn't. I don't even trust the ones who do. The flirtation with death and stunted living starts there. An infatuation with self-image, style and attitude, all pulled in from a searing, smoking stick, sucked way down and blown back out as your fantasy persona clears into view through clouds of your own myth.

The cigarette.

My first erotic love.

Lying back, breathing heavy, her legs open, waiting that my tongue tastes her for the first time. Me. Between her thighs. 3am. Bare apartment. Single mattress on the floor. No electricity. Rats in the loft. Kissing up her thighs. Pushing her legs still farther apart. Her sex tingling. The entire universe and all existence collapsed down into a bud of pleasure. I take a long, slow drag from a B&H and funnel a fine flute of smoke against her swollen clit. And with the air and the warmth she groans and quivers and pushes forward, suddenly clenching her stomach for the first steep drop of the death ride. 21 and discovering ourselves, taken over by an insanity we didn’t know we possessed. An intense mournful and desperate erotic longing, pupils dilated, tears from an unknown emotion, mouths biting words of unrepressed madness and honesty.

We must die together… I can’t live without you now.

I know, My Love, I know. I’ve wanted to die so badly, but in you I want to live.

I want to live so badly too. Tell me that you'll save me, that you’ll save all of this… that tonight will never end.

Ssssh, My Darling, Sssssh… This hell is ours eternal.



2. CREDIBILITY

Oh no, not you as well, I said.

The local shopkeeper pressed a button on the side of his e-cigarette and, looking at me, sucked in and blew out, letting clouds of vapour pour from his mouth before swallowing the last of the heap down.

Voila, mon ami... That's how you evade the law, he said.

He pulled the e-cigarette from his mouth and showed it to me, pointing at the graduation marks printed up the top side. He said that he had filled it up only that morning, had been vaping away all day and still had 0.4ml of nicotine left. It meant nothing to me, but I read the reaction he sought and pulled an incredulous- looking expression like I was greatly impressed and what a shrewd investment it was.

Does it feel like smoke or is it like swallowing air? I asked

The shopkeeper wagged a demonstrative finger at me, then put the e-cigarette back in his mouth. He pressed the button once again, only this time he kept it pressed. I watched him curiously. He watched me back, his eyes open wide, the e-cigarette between his lips, button held, taking in vapour,  the seconds passing and his face becoming more strained and more ridiculous by the moment.  Finally he removed the device from his mouth and inhaled, instantly falling into fits of coughing, a shock of smoke sputtering out his mouth and nose. Through watery eyes he looked at me and forced a smile: It's just like a cigarette, he said. It's real smoke... Only, NOT smoke! Then he coughed some more before making a horrendous wretching sound like a bird regurgitating food for its chick.

For the first time I was kinda impressed. I'd imagined a variety of  politically correct smoke that didn't touch the throat on the way down.

Fuckin' good them things and I’ll tell ya wot for as well, said a new voice behind me. I quit with mine. Smoked 50 a day for 25 year. Stopped just like that. Amazing! Has turned me life right around and I feel so much better for it.

I turned around to confront the owner of the voice. It belonged to a new customer who had entered, who then whipped out his own e-cigarette, mouthed it, pressed the GO button and sucked down a lungful of steam himself. I eyed his sallow, bloodless complexion, his tea-stained teeth and oiled back grey hair. He stood there in a full-length woollen coat, yellowed from years of tar perspiration and nicotine-filled bars. A real smoker here, no doubt. A definite potential stiff for the cancer ward. I could see him there now, his last days spent dragging around an oxygen canister as he shuffled out the lift to stand in the hospital grounds in his pyjamas and smoke himself off in style. This was no three-a-day weakling but a hardcore, lifelong smoker, all attitude gone, someone who had smoked out of habit, through the night, coughing up phlegm and lighting another and not a slither of coolness left about it. He blew his vapour over me and the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper took a drag of his own e-cigarette and returned the gesture. I stood in the middle as these two local characters blew misty kisses at one another. The vapour didn't smell much like tobacco smoke but rather of some sickly perfume you would never want clinging to your clothes.

When I was once more alone with the shopkeeper, I questioned him about his electronic stick. To each question, the shopkeeper would present me with a different part of his device,  excitement lighting him up as he explained away how it worked and the genius of progress. It seemed like it was a piece of technology that he finally got better than the young. Twisting off the stem of his e-cigarette, he showed me how easy it was to refill and how to recharge it.

USB, he said, USB key!? As if asking me if I knew what one was. I nodded. Then he started going into the mathematics of the money this new-age cigarette was saving him.

Hmm, interested now aren’t you, he said, supposing everyone was as calculating with money as he. That speaks to you, don't it?!

It didn't, but I nodded as if I did, as if I was now open to the idea of an e-cigarette myself.

Standing as close to the shop counter as I could comfortably be, the shopkeeper took up his traditional position behind it and beckoned me still further forward, secrets abounding in his eyes as he leant in and whispered.

Listen, if you want an e-cigarette DO NOT buy it from the tobacconist. No, no. 50 euros from them dirty criminals. If you want an e-cigarette, my friend, come and see me. Look...

From below the counter he pulled out a package that looked like it contained two quality pens. E-cigarettes.

From me only 40 euros... for the TWO.  Plus one 12-miligram refill. Brand-new best quality, he said. Just 40 euros for you, my friend.

So that was it: The Hard Sale. This mule was so het up about e-cigarettes because he was flogging them. The other goon who had come in tinged the colour of morning piss was probably his stooge.

40 euros? I'll think about it, I said.

Don't think too long, he replied. Every second with them other foul things is killing you... And your wallet! E-cigarettes: all the pleasure of the real thing without the death sentence!

He sounded like a programmed advert. God, how it sickened me. For a moment back there I thought he was genuine. This man, this little independent shopkeeper who had plead poverty over the years, who had kept me supplied in chocolate and cholesterol, who I'd remained loyal to despite his inflated prices, was now trying to sell me any old junk he got his bartering hands on. Why, only three days previous, he had sold me half-priced Albanian cigarettes. I took a carton of cheapest orange juice he sold, paid, and walking home wondered what the hell was in it.



3. A CONVERSATION

You should at least try it before you condemn it, she said. I thought you were more open-minded than that... That you‘re into everything e-dash and smart?

Not everything. And I don't need to try one. I'm sure they work just fine and that the vapour is as good as everyone says it is. But that’s not where it falls down: it's the thing itself. E-cigarettes just aren’t attached to anything or anyone or any image. That may sound ridiculous but everything nowadays comes down to that: not the practicality of the thing but what it says about us, the consumer. The Marketing of the Self, capitalism's greatest success and hold over us. It sells us fantasy and individualism through association. With all the choices we have we can construct a personality around ourselves, be whoever we want to be, except, ironically, ourselves. Some people construct that character around an empty husk, become what‘s cool and fashionable, and others construct an outward representation of their internal self, that hero they imagine they are and want the world to perceive them as. But it's all marketing and we are all victims, no less the people who claim to have escaped modern life, who live in tents and shit under trees. I can spot an eco-warrior miles off! How? Because he/she dresses in a certain style... Keeps their hair in a certain fashion. They market themselves to the image of who they want to be. We project who we are, who or what we want to be and what we're into by our clothes and accessories. Do you think modern books are designed to be read? Well, they’re not. They're designed to be shown off. It's why e-books haven't completely taken off just yet, because no one can see what you're reading. Give Kindle a back screen which displays an image of the book you're reading (even better an image of the book you're not reading) and sales will rocket. People could then show off an appetite for Jean Paul Sarte while reading of the wizardry of Harry Potter. Do you imagine there's one person on the bus or underground who is not conscious of what the cover of their book is and what they imagine it says about them? I'm sure I'm not the only one who has chosen books especially for my journey, going so far as pretend-reading the same words over and over for the eyes of others. One woman even once pulled me up on it.

Sat on the underground opposite me, smirking and looking over like I was a simpleton, she said: I say, you must be a terribly slow reader... You've been on that same book now for almost four months and you're not even a third of the way through! I smiled and said: Every great book's worth at least one half-decent fuck and this one hasn’t paid its dues yet!

And it won't today, she replied, standing up and moving away before she caught whatever stupidity it was I had. I’m telling you, it's all about image. Westerners have become obsessed with being someone in this life. It comes with the loss of religion, which is a good thing of course, but the transient period, the intermediate search for meaning and acknowledgement, is not so good. God needs a replacement. Without an omnipresent peeping Tom to distinguish ourselves to, it's only natural we become more and more extrovert as a people.

Fuck, Christ what has any of that got to do with anything? How does that stop you from at least trying an e-cigarette? They’re revo-fuckin-lutionary!

They could very well be once some rockstar takes up the habit while shooting dope or a bunch of vaping gangsters hold up a casino in some film or other. What they’re lacking right now is sex appeal. That's what will really make the e-cigarette: an identity. And even more importantly: If it can help get you laid or not. And that, that search for company, this 21st century isolation, brings it back once more to the loss of God.

Huh! Well, I think you've thought way too much about this. What a sad man you really are. There you are writing on about living such a decadent life as you do, when really you're sat at home alone, pondering over all kinds of nonsense. And, by the way, not everyone is into dead rock stars and sex appeal. Not everyone is so superficial and self-conscious as all that!

You think so? It's not important if it's a dead rock star or a sport's personality, whether it's people power-dressing for work or a 50-year old biker with no bike: it's all the same thing. And before you say it, it's nothing to do with adolescence or being immature or anything like that. And we rarely wise up, ever. We just age, shrivel up, and pass onto another marketing image. We modify who we project as we get older. We steal from what we feel are wiser, more sophisticated sources or those that will benefit better what we want from life. But it's not really about the age we are, it’s much more about the age group of the people we’re looking to attract. But, back on subject, for the moment the e-cigarette adds nothing to our marketed persona; it may even detract from it. Imagine a different scenario, one in which our paedophile cousins adopt the e-cigarette as theirs, in which vaping is known as an accessory of child molesters. In that instance, how many adult males do you think would take up vaping? Not many, I tell you. It's where anti-smoking campaigns have always fallen down in the past, by showing black lungs and hideous neck tumours. They made smoking seem even more dangerous, even more rebellious. What they should have done was associate smoking to a very uncool image, an image that'd have had kids ridiculed and bullied and young adults mocked off the streets. Instead they sold death to the young, and the young are infamous for wanting to die.

Oh, come on now, stop! Not one subgroup will ever have exclusive rights over a product. That's really fucking simplifying it.

Of course it's simplifying it. I agree it's much more complex than that but we'd never get there if we didn't simplify it. But still it happens. Look at how rubberwear is, associated to taboo and S&M, or how a certain haircut can define what music someone likes. Look at the swastika! If I were to wear one tomorrow I'd be branded a fascist and probably be beaten too.

Let’s leave swastikas well out of this. As to someone’s hairstyle or clothes, it all depends on what and how they wear them. Something as practical as an e-cigarette will maybe find its niche markets in colours and shapes??? It could be that a certain style of electronic cigarette comes to be associated with a certain type or group, but not the entire product itself.

Yes, but that’s exactly it : that's what the Marketing of the Self is. It’s exactly that! And once we've marketed ourselves right down to a specific type and colour, right at that point where we believe we've attained true individualism, that's when we've been done over completely, pigeonholed into small denominations with tastes so refined that we’re sitting ducks for specific products and ideas. At that point, as a sub-sub-sub group, the market knows exactly what to sell us and what magazines and websites we'll most likely visit or buy. It knows our morals, sexual perversions and our politics. It's why all these sub-genres exist in everything from music to art. People think it's individualism but it’s not. We're being divided up into ever smaller subgroups so as our choice of products becomes ever more defined. With a large enough wardrobe, you could go out and masquerade each day as a completely different person. It already happens: multiple interior personality disorder! People, terrified of loneliness, taking on multiple interior personalities according to the set circumstances or what people they’re with on any particular day. The phrase ‘I'm gonna let my hair down’ is a symptom of such a phenomena. What it really means is: I'm gonna abandon my serious and professional self and instead lose myself in someone quite different for some time.

Yes, yes… I understand what you're saying, but I’m wondering whether you do? On one hand, you're criticizing such association and on the other, you don't want to be seen with an e-cigarette because it's not 'rock n' roll' enough. You seem highly confused… Even more than usual.

It's not confusion. It's saying I'm as much of a victim as anyone. That I've nowhere near escaped the capitalist system. But I don't ever pretend I have. For me, the ultimate victory over capitalism will not be if you were used by it or not, but if you were conscious of being used by it or not: If you were duped or not duped. To undermine any system or order you must first become a part of it, use it against itself. A revolution is that... It's all a part of the same circle. Whatever our society becomes in the future, the free market will have played an important role in getting us there. In that way, if you believe in and strive for a fairer social and economic system, you must ultimately celebrate the role capitalism played in getting us there. You can't love the human and hate the monkey.

If you're evolution I certainly don't love the human.

Well, now you're sounding just like that bitch on the train, and I suppose you'll not let me fuck you either... E-cig, paperback or not?

And she didn't answer. She just shook her head like there was no hope left for me. Then she pressed GO and swallowed down another lungful of steam.

4. WEAKNESS

I could feel myself cracking from a long way off. I'm so familiar with that dual inner tension of desire and restraint that I now often give in immediately just to save time. I caught myself watching people with e-cigarettes, searching out any potential types, some malleable and corruptible characteristic that I could clutch on to, possess and make my own. But I saw nothing. Just idiot after idiot, holding these things like Irish whistles and sipping at the vapour like someone trying to make a single shot of whisky last an entire lifetime. When I came across a group of young clerks stood outside a bank, looking like an advertisement for menswear fashion, I knew there was little hope for me to be able to ply my sickly trade in this newly-emerging market. One of the clerks, a tall, slim, rosy-cheeked young man with blond hair, even seemed to goad me. Taking a pip-puff of his tin whistle, he blew the smoke out as if he were blowing his fringe out his eyes. Then he smirked as if I were the punchline of some joke. As I passed I heard his little crowd of cohorts chortling away with amusement, like they maybe would at a hated client who'd just lost his house and car and family on a bad investment. I was the bad investor. And lighting a fresh cigarette with the butt of my old one, I surely was.

Fucking bank clerks! I spat, looking at my reflection in the storefront window of a tobacconist’s. I'd prefer to be dead at 40 rather than have the misfortune of being one of them until the age of 60! And as my spite receded and my reflection disappeared in the glass, they came into sight, dozens of them, some dressed in black with white tops, others in sparkling pink, another in army fatigues, polka dot, glitter, gold, some fat, some thin, some long, others short, some sculpted and slender, some straight and some sober. Laid out, on display right in front of me, e-cigarettes of all shapes and sizes. I stood there staring at the wares, trying some more to figure the product out while fighting off an inner yearning to try it. My stupid head went so far as to start making deals with itself that I could smoke real cigarettes in public and take things a little easier on my body in private. I went through my options and each time opted for a death I didn't want. God, smoking is so unremarkable that it hardly matters anyway. Am I really so superficial it matters? Probably. Surely. Scratch my skin and you'll find nothing underneath. I'd probably disappear if I grazed myself badly enough. I eyed the e-cigarettes with great suspicion, thought of the bank clerks, and then eyed the cigarettes some more. Then taking a breath and swallowing my soul, I entered the shop for a closer inspection.

5. CAPITULATION

I took my first puff on an e-cigarette two days after Christmas. It had a weird sweet taste, not at all like a cigarette, but not unpleasant either. I did not buy it from the Algerian shopkeeper and neither did I opt for anything fancy or anything which resembled a real filter cigarette. It was plain black, 22 euros, and I bought the strongest liquid nicotine available. I felt like a fraud. I crept home and I charged it and I vaped covertly and mourned the sale of my bartered soul. To my surprise, it worked well. Over the following few days I went from smoking forty real cigarettes a day to no more than five. By the end of the week, as long as I was inside, tobacco had lost much of its importance. Outside, however, my cigarette fetish was as strong and as hellbent as ever. I started buying cigarettes expressly for that reason. But then two things happened, one by accident, and the other by design: The first change came when I cooked up a small fix of heroin and instead of shooting it in my veins I mixed it with my nicotine liquid and filled my e-cigarette with it. It wasn't strong, wouldn’t have killed a novice, but I could taste it and it seemed to keep me stoned without doing much more. I spent the day traveling the city and openly smoking heroin on the metro, in the street, alongside police officers, in shops and just about everywhere that hadn’t yet outlawed vaping. And it felt good. And in my mind the e-cigarette changed. It was then something subversive and secretive and I felt quite sure that everyone could tell that my e-cigarette wasn't quite smoking like any other around. Ha! It became not only a pleasure but a duty to vape outside, blowing out feint heroin fumes around the most unsuspecting of people. After such bastardization, I was no longer ashamed to be seen with such a thing. The second event came by way of complete hazard. Standing at a packed tram stop a tall young man came bouncing along, knocking into anyone who didn’t step aside. As he neared me I tensed my upper body and stood my ground. He knocked right into me and was duly sent veering off his line. He must have felt the resistance in my body as when he had regained his course he stopped and spun around.

Mind where you’re fucking walking! I yelled at him. The young man approached me with his arms flung open like he wanted some business. Or what? Or WHAT? he said as he came right up to me. With my e-cigarette pushed into the tender side of his neck, I leant in to his ear and snarled, Or I’ll empty you out right here. He must have seen some madness in me which he wanted no part of. Cool down, man, he said. It was an accident… Just an accident.

Well, mind your fucking accidents next time and never accident into me again. He backed off with his hands slightly raised. Go! Be off! I said. When he was far enough down the road he turned once more and screamed some insult at me in a foreign tongue. I just stared, all the while chugging on my e-cigarette. When he was finally gone, I heard the other people at the tram stop discussing what had happened and how he had either bumped into them or had made them step aside. And as listened I vaped, and for a moment I felt like a dangerous man.

On the short walk home from the tramway that evening I decided to pass the little corner shop. As I turned in off the road, there stood outside was the shopkeeper sucking the entrails out the arse of cigarette. When he saw me he quickly dashed the dog-end aside before putting an arm around me and shepherding me into the shop in such a way that I wouldn’t have seen the smoking butt on the floor. The man was a cloak of absolute deceit.

Were you just smoking? I asked.

He was all set to lie, then must have remembered that he believed in an all-seeing God and so made a confession.

Ah, yes, yes, he said. You’re a very intelligent and observant man! But I always have one cigarette in the evening and one after breakfast each morning. Sometimes you just can’t beat a real cigarette.
Yes, I agreed, pulling out my e-cig so as he couldn‘t help but see. Sometimes a real cigarette just cannot be beaten.

When he saw my device he washed over with a very distinct strain of sorrow, like I had caused him a great disappointment in his heart. O, but why? Why this cheap vulgar thing and not one of my beautiful vaporizors? Did you lose your mind over the New Year? Why, why, sir?

It was a present, I lied. And besides, yours don’t seem to work very well. I just caught you out there smoking away in shame.


O, but I explained all that, he said. It was just one… My allotted transgression, if you will. But never mind that— I’ve a little gift of my own for you, for your much appreciated custom.

The shopkeeper went behind his counter and bent down out of sight. I heard him rustling about and open some kind of carton. When he rose he handed me one of his electronic cigarettes and a quite devilish smile to accompany it. Here, for being such a good reliable customer. I instinctively reached out to take it. He pulled it back from out my reach. There’s just one condition, he said. If mine smokes better than yours, you must agree to buy the other one?


Oh no, I said, I don’t like such agreements… I’d not be comfortable with that.

Take it, Sir, please... It’s a gift. It’s yours. No conditions if you don’t like. But please accept it. Will you?

Under such duress I agreed. The storekeeper visibly lit up, dropped the-cigarette in a small paper bag and said with great excitement, You will see… Now you will see how much better mine are.

I took the small bag containing the e-cigarette and without buying anything, I left the shop.

Back home I took the e-cigarette out the bag ready to put on charge. As I unscrewed the vaporizing chamber from the battery, a thick dribble of saliva ran out the mouthpiece and over my hand. The sly old bastard. The entire mouthpiece was not only clogged with spit but was also heavily chew-marked. All that bending down behind the counter while making out like he was opening something was a complete charade. This wasn’t a new e-cigarette at all. It was his old one that either no longer worked or was so sodden with spittle that the vaporisor needed replacing. No doubt the shopkeeper now felt like I was in his debt, that I would find it difficult to worm out of buying the other e-cigarette without offending him in one way or another. That’s how the world often works. It pushes things our way and taxes us for them later.


That night the New Year was brittle with cold. The windows of the apartment frosted up through the night and the ice creaked and cracked and at times it was like there was no life out there at all. In the dark of the room the charger for my e-cigarette emitted a single green light. It was charged and ready to get me through until the morning. I laid on my side staring at that little light and listening to the wheezing of my lungs. Technology had come too late, and anyhow, I missed the orange glow and the magic patterns of a lone cigarette burning through the night. And with a certain resignation I reached across for my Gauloise Reds, shook one out, placed the firm filtered end between my lips and lit her up. It was a lonesome old world and my lover tonight would kill me tomorrow. But that was fine, and what‘s fine is good, and I puffed some more and sealed my rotten fate.

- - -


Lines for Joe M


19 comments :

Marie R said...

That's so true about what you call the "internal hero" and image. The first of my smoking was while drinking, etc, and the next was "socially." Being seen, and loved the burgandy filter of my cherry cloves! The vanilla tasted almost as good, but looked like a regular cigarette, so the way that the cherry filter stood out was just about as important as the taste.

Your observation about books made me laugh out loud! Some people claim they're rather attached to the physical sensations of books, and that's probably part of it. Interactive touch seems important to me, as well. It took.a long

Marie R said...

My phone wasn't letting me type, anymore. It took a long time to switch to a smartphone vs pressing buttons, not switching until it became too inconvenient to do without one. The Alexa, Amazon Fire sticks and such will probably be the same, as I'd much rather type than.speak

Marie R said...

Sigh, phone issues, again. I'm sorry for triple posting. Books, I've shown off what I'm reading in some situations, and not let anyone see in others. Image, again. Just like clothing, jewelry, purses, etc in which you try to show the world who you think you are. And isn't it funny which ads come up while you surf the internet? It's a little frightening at times, and the marketing will continue to be perfected as more of our lives become intertwined with technology and the internet.

By the way, you left a little bit of the web address off on the link to Lines for Joe M. That's way too easy to do with.autocorrect and stupid little things like barely touching the wrong area on a keyboard or smartphone, as I've shown with my inability to finish typing my comment all at once!

Frederick Fox said...

This makes me want to write about my history with tobacco. I am about the youngest person who was able to smoke in his office (in Vienna, almost 15 years ago) and in bars (in Germany, about ten years ago).

Cindy Spowart said...

Shane, as always, a great piece. I have to read each word in case I miss one of your keen observations. As always, I journeyed along w/ you in the shop, waiting for a subway, and even as you took to vaping in secret inside. This piece is one of the most hilarious ones I have ever read by you. January 2016 saw most of the smokers I knew consulting w/ my son about what vape to buy. I was not one of them, already having tried his, and finding that sticking a metal tube in my mouth didn't quite satisfy my needs as much as the filter from my good old B+H. It ended up that NONE of those who consulted w/ him quit smoking cigarettes, and probably have their vapes hidden away in the back of a drawer somewhere. The vaper hippie kid, himself? Well, no longer a kid at 22, but his vape has disappeared within the last couple of months and he's asking old Mom here, for far too many cigarettes, at the price they are ($15 a packet). Again, a great piece, Shane, that had me cackling far too loud given I have a roommate still sleeping. x

Peet79 said...

Great post, as always. I partly agree with the opinion that people do stuff to create a persona, but then there is the other group, with me included, who don't care about the style, more about the practicality and cost. I'm a strong opponent of paper books in favor of e-books, not only because I can get any books for cheaper (or pirate them, as I usually do), but there's also a much greater variety online compared to a bookstore. Now, I don't smoke, but if I did, I would only use e-cigs, for those same reasons. What does it say about me and people like me, anyway?

JoeM said...

This was hilarious.

I do think smokers look cool. The way they narrow their eyes when they light one, the spark of the flame on their cheeks - James Dean with a fag hanging out of his mouth. Oh and he looks good with a cigarette too...

And who would Bette Davis be without her Lucky Strikes to dramatise her every move.

I smoked for only 5 years but it was a real addiction. I was very poor and would collect butts off the street. How unhealthy was that?

But I had a reverse image problem. People who knew me hated to see me smoke. This did not conform to their image of me. Even though they'd spent hours in pubs with me for years. Somehow smoking was a step too far.

I would never have smoked in front of my mother. Even though she didn't mind downing Mandrax in front of me and my brother when we were younger - with us having to suffer the consequences of her being high. Then low.

I remember buying Benson and Hedges purely because of the gold packet. And liking some of the old ads - some quite surreal ones. Image truly has so much to do with ciggies.

Vaping, has no image to me other than maybe

Decaff/non-alcoholic beer/low fat chocolate.

Brando versus Tom Hanks or Bette versus Doris Day.

Lines:

I've invested a lot of money in lung cancer and pulmonary heart disease and I'm not about to blow my investment now.

For the first time I was kinda impressed. I'd imagined a variety of politically correct smoke that didn't touch the throat on the way down.

Instead they sold death to the young, and the young are infamous for wanting to die.


As Marie R said, the link didn't work - so you know I'm not cheating!

Anonymous said...

I adopted a baby monkey after I found him on the side of the road next to his mother's lifeless body. The baby didn't know what to do and was sad and crying so I decided to take him with me and help raise him. So I decided to daily post a YouTube video of our baby monkey so everyone can see him. Here's my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYm1jZ-9CFQD1inehrhYcIg

Michelle Zuber said...

I think, Joe, you got some of the best. We'll just have to sit back and wait to see if you two match.

JoeM said...

So these were your lines (from the Lost Posts link):

I've never known a heroin junkie who did not smoke; I wouldn't trust one who didn't. I don't even trust the ones who do.


Sshhhss My Darling, Shsssh... This hell is ours eternal.


It was a lonesome old world and my lover tonight would kill me tomorrow.

Zero out of three!

We must try harder...

liz bain said...

"...I stood in the middle as these two local characters blew misty kisses at one another."
Fucking hilarious!!
But yeah, they were in on it together- trying to seduce the money right outta your pocket!
Thank you for sharing, as always- I love what goes on inside your head. You seem like you'd be fun to hang out with!
:)femnoir

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...



Hey Marie R, these things aren't so flattering to write about, but it's really how it is and I'm past caring about anything but existence and real behaviour and psychology. Well, that and history and time and consequence and life. It seems important and I can't realy explain why.

I do understand book lovers and that attachent - I love books and smelling them myself. But I also love new technology and don't see a nightmare but something great about it. But really, books/paper was only ever a means to an end but wasn't really practical. Nowadays where you can stock a whole library of books on your phone or tablet, for me I wuld have loved that access to education when I was young aND OUR BOOKS WERE USED TO KEEP THE FIRE GOING (sorry went into caps typing to fast and not looking!). X

Your observation about books made me laugh out loud! Some people claim they're rather attached to the physical sensations of books, and that's probably part of it. Interactive touch seems important to m

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Frederick... Thn write about it. You can send it across to me if you ever do and I'll check it for plaigerism! First time here I thnk, so qwelcome. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Mr Joe M... X

I thought you'd like ths one. It's my last verification on deciding if it's any good or not... I wonder what you'll think of it. So, without even knowing it, you've saved me from posting some very dodgy stuff.

I love the smell of smoke and especially from cigars. You kinda look cool when you're young, but when you are 42 and look like me I think it may disgust people. Just stand me in front of a kid for 5 minutes and it'll put them off smoking for good. I'd be quite proud of that if it were true. I'd probably give the little bastard one... Shield hm as he tries to inhale.

It's always a big thing smoking in front of your parents. I just felt like an amateur as Mum was a heavy smoker. I started smoking by lighting hers for her and nickig a few blows pretending I was still trying to get the thing up.

Yeah, we're gonna have to do better with the Lines. I always used to have the same lines as you... It's why I started it. But it's good fun and of course, Lines for Joe M could be lines of coke... So it works well. XxX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Mrs Zuber... We did terribly! But we're gonna get better. Next text we're gonna get 3 outta 3. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hi Liz... I still have to getyour writing back to you. I keep saying I haven't forgotten but but maybe I'm wrong and I have! But it's an integral paret of my cxharacter: I wouldn't be me if I didn't break every promise. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Oh, and to the girl who has a monkey... Be very careful once it hits puberty. Tey go out their minds and are like having a hyperactive, retarded chid to care for. It's why Michael Jackson's Bubbles disappeared without trace... The thing hit puberty and lost its fucking mind. X

Anonymous said...

Love this honest and reflective peice. Here in Oz, we pay about $34-$37 for a pack of 26 JPS. Absolute rort. People are turning to rollies at a phenomenal rate; even people who otherwise never would have. A 20g pouch is about the same price but you get about 80 rollies. Sorry to add such trivial details but I saw a post saying they pay $15 and that sounds like a dream... Now social pressure to quit has intensified and if you're a 'poor' smoke there is no empathy... New Zealand plans to be a 'smoke free' country in the next few years according to crap news.

Clare x

Marie R said...

You're lucky on account of 26-packs. In the US, ours are 20, but I believe there are countries with a stingy 16! However, your prices are astounding, and not just cigarettes. I believe your wages are higher, as well. I wonder if it evens out? For example, our federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. A few years ago, in my state, minimum wage was raised by $1/hr. Employers retaliated by cutting hours, and by not offering "full time" to new hires. However, in our little city of vice, cigarettes can be relatively cheap, or at least run less than a lot of places, maybe anywhere outside of the States the cigarette manufacturers are based. As long as you stay away from the tourist areas, the 2nd most expensive of popular name brands (Camels) end up being just under $7 after tax, or slightly over $6 in our largest locals gambling establishment chain.

In other smoke-related news, apparently, there's new legislation being pushed to ban (non tobacco) flavored Vapes. Because "the kids." They did the same with cloves/tobacco/rolling papers about 9-10 yrs ago. That's what caused me to switch to cigarettes from cloves back then... Which I began smoking as a full adult! Our country is putting through horrible laws these days. But that's another topic.