Thursday, April 9, 2009

But, Smoke It Like a Grown-Up

But, Smoke It Like a Grown-Up

Smoking. It happens. People seem to be extremely attached to smoking. As the places where one can enjoy a good drag indoors are growing fewer and further between, with even the Commonwealth of Virginia instituting their own ban, people are taking their cigars, cloves and cigarettes out to the patios, porches, and front lawns of public buildings everywhere. In the satirical universe maintained by the Onion’s news team, smokers are finally corralled into a single room in a small town in a Midwestern state. And despite the minor inconvenience of having to drive across several state lines, smokers are determined to hit the road instead of kicking the habit.

The resilience of the tobacco industry notwithstanding, the widespread attack on indoor smoking has taken an odd toll on the society at large. In its heyday, smoking enjoyed an odd prominence. Crystal ashtrays adorned many tables, reserving seating for smoking patrons. The burning embers of a consumed cigarette crushed in the container a la The Rat Pack. But with the virtual elimination of smoke-friendly buildings, there is no longer the easy access ashtray.

The cigarettes once used are, by their owners reckoning, gone. All that remains for them now is a casual gesture, something to signify the accomplishment of finishing (or stopping, whichever the case may be). Where once this act was a twisting of the hand, victory is celebrated by the flick of the fingers and twist of the foot, fin. But to the world’s eye, something remains. A minor piece of litter, really is it that bad? The same stirring one would get watching someone wad up his Starbuck’s receipt and throw it to the sidewalk wells up when the uninvolved observer notes this convenient disposal technique enacted on the patio of a favored cafĂ©.

This particular manner of resolution is uniquely upsetting to Kevin, a smoker who endures a complicated practice of flicking the fading ashes to remove all risk, and throwing away the remaining filter, in a garbage can. Kevin, when questioned about his diligence on the matter replied in frustration, “‘Cause I’m a God damned grown-up.” This Silver Spring, MD resident went on to explain that people fail to consider the clean-up required to maintain aesthetically appealing areas, and leaving a trail of litter conjures up images of a parent having to follow unruly children caring for their messes.

Smoking. It happens. People are extremely attached to smoking,
and that’s fine. But, smoke it like a grown-up.