This article was written by our good friend Jeff Tollefson.
I am a legitimate smoker. Why does anyone ever start smoking? What draws the lust? Is it just the culture of our time, or the pop media that onslaughts all the right propaganda? Is it because thirty years ago a dude on a horse told us to lasso up some flavor? “I would like flavor… in addition, I also would like people to think of me as a somewhat gruff sketchy looking character.” – T. M. Kindred. Jk.
I’ll bet we think it gives us just the right bit of kick-in-the-ass that we need to be alive. Perhaps we have all wanted to be that don’t-give-a-damn on screen person; freakin’ say something really bold, with your head down, your back to the wall and then slowly lift your hand to your mouth. I‚Äôll admit, it looks very aesthetically pleasing on the big screen: a man smokes a cigarette on screen acting rather tough. There’s something else there, he’s saying something else to the millions watching. Whatever it is, I’m enjoying it.
In any case, there is a reason why one smokes. There is an evidential purpose why anyone smokes. Even after the night is through, and you’ve had your midnight puff, why does one keep going? You’ve already done it once; will it be better the second time? Probably not. Face it. You’ve seen the throat holes, the oxygen tanks, the wheelchairs, heart monitors and 60-year-old overweight, balding, moomoo-wearing women buying a carton at the liquor store. You probably thought it was the cashier speaking over the intercom. You know smoking will kill you earlier; in fact, I’m not really going to add to that, its pretty clear. So then, why? I think I’m going to go with the only logical thought on this one: its insane. Its not that you‚Äôre telling everyone that you want to die, it‚Äôs more that I can and will die at my own personal bidding. Or maybe it‚Äôs ‚ÄúShit no! I proclaim non-death!‚Äù And of course, either way, you don’t give a damn.
It‚Äôs the ridiculous search to somehow deny all of nature and God himself. Not to mention your own intellect. “I know this will kill me, but for now, screw you God and you too ‘mind’. I’m going to put you in my top drawer with the rest of my excess change, trial lotions and my unusable holey socks. So you toss your cognition in the street, step on it and give hoof pivoted twists on your heel. Doing this feels good. You feel like your taking part in something, sticking it to all those assholes out there. “I am living my life! I am not giving a damn. I have money, women and God-given talent; I can afford a small slice of insanity for all that. I am smoking. I am a smoker. I am a god! I am a smoking god! I am a god-smoker!”
That‚Äôs why it keeps going. It’s the struggle of non-conformity, the struggle of immaterial power, of war on the natural principles, even war on your self. Its the age old ambition for power every man in the universe has enjoyed: from greed, to politics, to Church authority, to world dominion; from violence, to possession, to slandering, to thieving; from stealing your brothers Halloween candy, to gloating about your Charles Barkley rookie card; from eating more than your body will allow to, putting carcinogenic smoke in your lungs. I can and will do what I want.
Every man/woman wants to be a god. We all want to make up our own rules. Every smokers desire is to hear this from an onlooker: “Do you see that cow in the middle over there, woah! Its the only spotted cow in the whole herd!” Sure it smells like shit for miles, but there isn’t another beefer for miles that’ll be spotted like you will from an 80-mile an hour nose plugger. Every bystander will want to be that one cow. I would want to be that one cow. Though if I was a driver on the I-5 I imagine I would want to keep driving. Although, if I was a fellow cow…. that would be another story. I would be insanely jealous no doubt.
Every man/woman wants to be a super Faust. To obtain the unobtainable, to drink in the forbidden water, to kick the ball after the bell rang, to come in late to school & have your teacher thanking you for it. We all want to do the “thing” and get a gift basket along with it.
We all in our own way want to pursue the power of insanity. When I was 4 years old I legitimately tried to hypnotize my mother into letting me eat chocolate for every meal. At 6 I wished I could fly. When I was 8 I wrote a rather convincing letter to the (full of subconscious manipulation) government stating my desire for the youngest driver’s license ever to be issued (I couldn’t touch the pedals). When I was 12 I wished I could touch a book and learn it instantly. At 15 I wished I would magically be able to kick a soccer ball like a 30 year old. At 16 I used to dream about having a magic lamp genie. At 18, all I wanted was a girlfriend…now finally at 23 I win. I smoke cigarettes. All those long years I was striving for the ultimate metaphysical power. I’ve found it. I have earned my insane power. I have what it takes to lift my arm to my orifice and light it.
Now, go out, claim your singular possession of a spotted back, claim your ultimate power, your solitary godlike status and remain, for a time, more than a man; but just not to other smokers.
“Cigarette? No, sorry man. When they make a pack with 21 I’ll let you know.”
*this article was featured on August 27, 2007