Yesterday, Pixie called me retarded. She apologized later on, but truth be told, I hadn't taken much offense.
I AM retarded.
I do dumb things all the time. Things that make no sense. I run and exercise to stay healthy, but then I jam all sorts of horrible things into my body: French fries, tequila, angst, and smoke.
I smoke in a healthy way. I also eat, drink, and destroy my body on a daily basis in a healthy way.
If you're eagerly anticipating that I'm about to offer you a panacea that will let you satisfy all your most gluttonous desires with no ill effect, then you clearly haven't read my blog before today. The above was self-abasing satire.
But I run so I don't go crazy. And I pollute my body to give me some measure of calm as well. Because sometimes pizza topped with ice cream and dipped in beer just makes all the world seem amazing. I want the world to be amazing. And if there's any proof of that, it's these mystical substances that make our hearts race with joy. Joy, damn it.
|Joy. Damn it.|
But anyway, if you're going to smoke, you can at least do so without turning your lungs into Sarlac pits. Here comes the list that caused you to click this link like a gambling addict who just found a slot machine in his closet.
1. Smoke pipe
Contrary to what you may think, I wasn't hooked on cigarettes by a weird twichy kid in a high school bathroom. In fact I was terrified of any foreign substance other than sandwiches. I didn't even start drinking until I was 23. Boy did that turn out to be a slippery slope.
My first exposure to smoking was my dad's pipe. It always seemed so majestic, billowing about like a dragon's breath. And it smelled like a hot cherry tree. The kind of cherry tree that gathers you up in its limbs and snuggles you on a cool fall night. Cherry trees are snuggly.
One day a couple of years ago, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, I decided I was going to start smoking pipe. It's the same reason I started drinking, or got a motorcycle. These are cheap ways to live life. I don't know how gypsies who work part time at a cafe can afford to travel through Europe, but I haven't figured out their secret yet. So I make life interesting with small things. Many many small things.
I YouTubed how to smoke pipe. It looked more complicated than I had anticipated. There was packing, and tamping, and puffing, and gazing off into the distance importantly. The guy in the video looked like the last guy in the world you'd expect to smoke a pipe. He looked like he had an epic collection of Birkenstocks and Star Wars posters. But then he took that first puff, and I thought, "OMG this man is the master of the universe."
|Master. Of. The. Universe.|
I got all the supplies at a drug store: Inexpensive pipe, a tamping tool that was probably an embarrassment to the Chinese toddler who made it, and pipe tobacco that did not smell like a snuggly cherry tree. I smoked my first pipe in my car in the parking lot of my office building. Actually I drove to the next lot over, in front of the grocery store, because I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of any stray coworkers.
And embarrass myself I did. I used half the box of matches. I got more tobacco in my lap than in the pipe. And I f+#ked up the packing, so that getting any smoke was like trying to suck a muffin through a straw. But man, for a few minutes I felt like all was right with the world. I also burned my mouth.
I've upgraded my supplies since. I discovered a local smokeshop. The guy who works there is Russian. Our conversations typically sound like, "How are you? Good. The weather is good. Life is good. Eight Dollars? Good. Have a good life." If you ever want to pass yourself off as a native Russian speaker, just learn the word for good, Хорошо, and use it in every single situation and context, forever.
|The Russian language. All of it.|
And considering that I can count on one hand the number of times I smoke pipe in a year, I have way too much pipe tobacco. In fact, a waiter from an Indian restaurant accidentally left a bag of Cavendish in front of a Cocktail bar, so now I have double too much.
2. Smoke Cigars
Smoking a cigar is what you do if you don't want your friends to compliment you on how it smells. When I smoke pipe, I'm welcome to do so in small enclosed spaces, even with giggling babies present. But if I ever need some time to myself, I just pull out a cigar, and I'm ostracized before I can even pretend-offer it to my horrified associates. Only men who look like they've wrestled lions and alligators since childhood can comfortably smoke cigars in the presence of other men who wrestle dangerous wild predators. I've never in my life seen a woman smoke a cigar.
When you pull out a cigar, you get the same kind of reaction as when you order an Irish car bomb and it's not St. Patty's day. They stare at you for a second. "Is it a special occasion? Did he get a promotion at work? No... no... He just... He's just going to do it. This man has no respect for polite society." There's never a good reason to smoke a cigar. It doesn't taste good at all. Even expensive cigars only taste marginally less bad. It's like lighting Beelzebub's unwashed ass on fire and then inhaling the fumes.
You smoke a cigar exactly for these reactions. People look at you like you're an angry viking who just came back from a long day of pillaging and plundering. They know you're a terrible human being, but they just can't help but look at you with awe and respect. If your boss walked into your office, sat down, and noisily ate stuffed lamb intestines, you would say nothing. Smoking a cigar temporarily makes you the boss of the world. Also, Wolverine smokes cigars, but he doesn't need to. He's the boss of the world by default.
|So boss. But seriously, please smoke that outside.|
But, to make this relevant to the list, you don't inhale cigars into your lungs (unless you've finally decided to end your life). If you smoke cigars only casually, you will always develop sores on the inside of your mouth for the next few days. But, you'll still be able to breath, and to run, albeit painfully. And with a lingering flavor like you sucked on a cow's mud soaked tail for an hour.
3. Smoke Cigarettes, but not really
I smoke cigarettes as if they were tiny cigars. That is, I suck the smoke just into my mouth, then blow it out. This makes them precisely pointless.
However, smoking a cigarette is a great way to change someone's perception of you from, "this guy is a self-important douchebag who stays in shape to make everyone feel super bad" to "oh, this guy is smoking with me? He hates his own life as much as I do! Friends forever!" It's about camaraderie.
I have a friend who rolls his own cigarettes using fragrant tobacco leaves he scrounged from an expedition to the Amazon and sun-dried on the top of Machu Picchu. The process by which he extracts the leaves, cuts them, and carefully rolls them borders on a religious ceremony. I always try to present the proper aura of respectful awe. I force myself to nod approvingly as he bathes the paper in his saliva to give it a tight seal. Then, like an asshole, I only smoke it into my mouth, completely and utterly missing the divine effect I'm supposed to enjoy. Then I tell him that that was the most glorious experience of my life, and rush back inside before he can ask me follow-up questions. I also offer him lots of Scotch as compensation.
I sometimes entertain myself by asking for a cigarette from someone who knows I don't smoke. I enjoy it casually, studying the facade of the building, quietly criticizing the architect. I hold the cigarette up, look at it with brows furrowed, nod in satisfaction, then continue smoking. I idly mention that I have to run 20 miles the next day. "Should I smoke, you ask? I'll be fine," I say with a wink. After I'm done, I thank my bewildered friend, and go back inside as if everything is totally normal.
I visited St. Petersburg a couple of years ago, and brought back some Russian cigarettes for friends. I made sure to keep at least one of the boxes. Fun fact: The warning message on Russian packs of cigarettes just straight up say, "smoking kills." In the rare times when I actually get cigarettes, I meticulously transfer them all to this wrinkled Russian case. Because my bloated ego knows no bounds.
This is what I do. Vaping is about blowing massive clouds of tasty vapor from a device built by an engineer on steroids. I suppose you can use a puny e-cigarette instead. Or you can use Thor's hammer:
|This vape weighs about 30 pounds.|
If you have too much free time, you can build and customize your own vapes. I have a tackle box of tools, parts, mods, wire, cotton, eye of newt, and dragon blood. I also make my own "e-juice", which requires another couple of boxes of vegetable glycerin, diluted nicotine, and many assortments of flavors ranging from peach, to blueberry cheesecake, to "this label has worn off, I probably shouldn't use this but Oh! It smells delicious!" All in all, vaping takes up an entire shelf in the house, much to Pixie's chagrin. Especially because the bottles of flavors tend to fall over and leak everywhere, casting a constant aroma that can smell like apples, vanilla, or usually just "faerie barf."
I'm not sure what the cool factor is for vaping, if there even is one. The folks who compliment me on my "mod" are exclusively men in dreads and homemade canvas vests. Most people assume I was a smoker at some point. When they ask how long ago I "quit", I have to explain that I never really smoked, but that I'm too irresponsible to just get a puppy.
Vaping rolls several addictions into one joyful bundle. The consumerist addiction of just buying a TON of shit. There's a never-ending list of new battery mods, tanks, drip tips, juices, and "I'm an asshole" decals you can buy. The physical addiction of constantly lifting and mashing something into your face. The nicotine addiction which - if you didn't have one - you will get. And then a bizarre new addiction I recently discovered of trying to breath out the most massive cloud possible, as if I would blot out all the sky with it.
|I will blot out the sky.|
One time, while driving to work, I noticed that the car behind me was giving me a really wide berth. And I realized that when I vape in my car, it looks like it's on fire. This excited me for some reason. But in general, people steer clear of me, lest these strange vapors will cause them to dissolve into a puddle.
Anyway, I should probably quit. It's really expensive, and the constant puddle of acutely sweet syrup on the coffee table is f@$king disgusting.
5. Smoke parsley
Not actually parsley, but a different green herby substances. But I don't know if I can get arrested via blog, so parsley it is. What's my verdict on parsley?
DON'T DO IT. IT IS DEATH.
To be fair, I think it's just how my body reacts to it. But 100% of the times I've tried parsley, it has ruined my life. It makes me profusely angry, and I have to lie absolutely flat, face down on the floor lest the whole world crush my skull. In fact, parsley destroyed my last New Year's party. I had a house full of beautiful, happy, laughing people all joyfully drinking champagne, playing music, and just having the most amazing night of the year. And I was lying in bed, in the dark, my head pounding like the creature from Alien went in the wrong direction and was trying to come out the top. Everyone kept trying to drag me out. Finally, at 11:59, I trudged out, looking like I had just climbed out of a cemetery, sat for a minute, utterly hating the planet and all of its inhabitants, then at 12:01 I went back to bed.
DO NOT SMOKE PARSLEY.
|Don't do it. I'll miss you when you're gone.|