Flirting with Disaster

For the past three weeks I’ve been having a sordid love affair with cigarettes. I happened into a pack of American Spirits at a time when I was in need of a bad habit, and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve happened into several more packs since. My first drag tasted inexplicably like pancakes and maple syrup. A moderate outlet for self-destructive impulses complete with sense memory assocations of breakfast on Saturday morning when I was eleven? What other choice did I have than to let this path play itself out, at least for a little while…

They say that in Soviet Russia, cigarette smokes you, and those commies never spoke truer words. Actually, in this as in many other things, I believe the Red Menace was really onto something, in theory more often than in practice. But the same is true of us American spirits and our American Spirits, and when we can’t achieve that synthesis, that’s when we light up another butt and breathe a little fire. But I digress. To truly express the moody allure of this habit, I’m gonna need an assist from the great Tom Waits and his Oscar-winning invention of the modern music video:

Yes, much like T-Pain twenty-six years later, Tom fell in love with a stripper. But while T-Pain made a shitty-yet-commercially-successful single about it, Tom created a cigarette smoke phantasm of her to whom he could sing “The One That Got Away” under the L.A. streetlights. Jessica Rabbit, eat your heart out. Of course, Tom’s nicotine damsel drives off in a town car, as is right, for it couldn’t be any other way.

You see, it’s all a noir thing– the smoky haze, the sultry, almost satisfying sense of loss and self-abuse. It took me three weeks wandering tobacco road to fully digest it, but now I know better. I have six of the little lung darts left on me and I find I’ve no desire to finish the pack anymore. “You win some, you lose some,” says Tom, and in my aborted attempt at addiction, I’ve done both. “You win some, you lose some.” Amen, brother.

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