I Loved Smoking
Maybe you did, too
Short one today! I’ve been working hard on the TTT screenplay (so close to the next stage!) and in it there is lots of smoking and just now I read my friend and hero Carson Ellis’s new book (hi Carson!) and there is lots of smoking in it and I am just sitting here thinking about the years in which I chain-smoked so, so happily. Was I happy? Not really. I was anxious. I was trying to do something with my hands. I was looking fucking cool as hell, I was asking cute boys if they had a light, I was L-I-V-I-N. My dad smoked, most of his life, cigarettes and pipes and cigars and vapes, and I loved smoking with him, too, when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I know that sounds bad and can I imagine either of my children ever smoking? No! I want their beautiful lungs clear! But I did love it. The first time I smoked a cigarette I was probably ten (or maybe younger?) and we were on vacation and my father had a pack of unfiltered Craven As and he let us try them and it was so, so disgusting. Maybe the point was to scare us off? Probably not. He wasn’t that kind of dad.
Anyway, here is a passage from This Time Tomorrow in which I break down the taxonomy of cigarettes in a NYC high school in 1996.
Alice felt drunk on the idea of how many of her friends smoked, how adult they had all seemed and felt. How the cigarettes had been giant flashing signposts, to themselves and each other. You could never trust someone who smoked Marlboro Lights, the Diet Coke of cigarettes--those were for the girls with pale lipstick and over plucked eyebrows, the girls who maybe also played volleyball and had sex with their boyfriends in their beds which were still covered with stuffed animals. Girls who smoked Parliaments were neutral--it was as close as you could get to not smoking, but still, you could flick your thumb against the recessed filter, and you could bum one to anyone, the type O negative of smoking. Girls who smoked Marlboro Reds were wild--those were only for girls who had no fear, and in their whole school, there was only one, a tiny girl who brown, wavy hair to her waist whose parents had been in a cult and then escaped. Newport girls were equally harsh but listened to hip-hop, and those girls, like Phoebe, wore lipstick and nail polish like vampire blood, rich and purple. Newport Lights girls with like that, only virgins. The girls who smoked American Spirits were beyond everyone--they were grown-ups, with keys to their boyfriends' houses.
Vapes could never. Sometimes it’s nice to remember all the other people one has been. Especially when settling into hard-core middle-age. I love being this me, but I loved being that me, too.
Okay back to writing my novel! There are over 10k subscribers to this newsletter now! Crazy!