Saturday, January 19, 2008


After a recent visit to the dermatologist, I now have a square patch on the underside of my left upper arm that everyone ASSUMES is a nicotine patch, even though I don't think I've ever made it all the way through a cigarette.

There are basically three reasons I don't smoke. The first two relate to health concerns and lack of enjoyment. The third is because I'm simply too uncoordinated to pull it off.

In drunken teenage moments, I would always be the kid trying to light the filter end. Once I got the hang of which bit to put in my mouth, I would inevitably end up with the screwed up face and watery eyes of someone trying very hard to preserve their dignity by not spluttering.

My main issue, though, was timing. I could never, ever get the rhythm of it right. I would either end up leaving the ash to accumulate so long that it would drop off and singe its way through my clothes, or I would overcompensate by tapping the ash off so frequently that the cigarette would end up extinguishing. My frenetic flicking became a bit of a running joke.

The people who really amazed me though, were the people who would light up at the packed front sections of music festivals. I would stare at them incredulously, thinking "DOESN'T IT WORRY YOU THAT YOU ARE TIGHTLY PRESSED ON ALL SIDES BY JOSTLING PEOPLE, HOLDING A LITTLE OBJECT THAT COULD TOTALLY WRECK SOMEONE'S DAY BY BURNING THEM OR RUINING THEIR TSHIRT?!"

Nonetheless, while I would never take it up, I remain a little envious of people who can do do the inhale-exhale-flick-hold routine with effortless nonchalance. Such skill.

Does smoking come naturally to most people? Are there smokers out there as uncoordinated as me, who have simply overcome its difficulties through practice and sheer determination?

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