My skin was itching, and I was tired of fighting it. So I dug through my purse to find the eighth of an inch of cigarette I’d hoped was still around. It had been a day or two since I’d indulged. Not long for some, but long for me, on this particular day, yesterday.
When I lit the match to the stub of a fag, the smell transported me back nine long years. It’s the difference between smoking and being a smoker, that smell. It was the beginning of a life-long love affair, and I smelled it yesterday.
I wonder if I’m alone in differentiating this odor. Perhaps it was the particular mix of suburban Northern California and newly lit charred tobacco. Perhaps I was just feeling nostalgic, but no, no, there was something different about this cigarette. Maybe I’d been carrying it around in my purse since high school, and Parliaments smelled differently then. But that’s not it, cause I smoked reds in high school, like the cool kids. No, it was the smell of that first drag, the particular odor of naivete. Something I’d lost, but somehow regained.
Today I wondered if a pack of smokes might make my day tolerable, and, should they, if they would again provide entrance to this strange time warp I’d stumbled on. I bolted out the office of the temp job formerly known as best temp job ever, to my local smoke shop, which I have, on occasion, utilized to buy the smokes that have proven in the past to make days tolerable.
And today? Well…
“A pack of Parliament Lights please” as I dig around my purse for quarters, hoping to put together the requisite $4.48.
“Are you 18?”
“Yes. I have an I.D.” oooh, but he doesn’t want to see my I.D. The question, apparently, was not out of concern for his tobacco license.
“Are you single?”
“Yes.” What was that?! Don’t tell stinky old nasty man the truth, stupid girl.
“You are?!” Lie now?! I already dug my grave. Let’s lie in it.
“Can I ask you out on a date?” Let’s see. You’re at least fifty, and you work at a convenience store. Perhaps you own the convenience store, but…
“Um..not this week. I’m having a hard week.”
“Oh…family shit.” The short answer. I mean, really, there are tears in my eyes. Do I need to explain myself?!
He mumbled something I didn’t understand along the lines of helping me through it. I must have looked skeptical. “Okay. Well, I’ll see you next week, then.”
And now, yet another reason to quit smoking. Or at least to avoid that particular market. I realize that I crossed a line. Now I’m old enough that old guys will hit on me too. And, in case you’re wondering, the smokes taste like I’m a smoker, cause I am, and, no, my day is not yet tolerable.