When I was a kid, like, middleschool and early highschool, I’d go up to Canada to play hockey in the summer, because, well, they care about hockey a lot more up there, and as a result, they have good places to play in the summer. Okay, so this is pretty much where my love affair with cigarettes began. It wasn’t the first time I ever smoked. That was in fifth grade when Vic Weffer came to school with a Virginia Slim torn up into little tiny pieces in a Ziploc bag. He showed the contraband to me in the science hallway right after Mr. Barsevich’s class and asked if I wanted the cigarettes (now, I’m pretty sure, in retrospect, that it was one cigarette ripped into about four, inch-long pieces [it was a Virginia Slim, after all, and those things are long as shit]) to which I replied ‘fuck yeah. ‘
So, after school, Jon Mindes and I were skateboarding home and we stopped in front of the hospital to try the cigarettes. Of course, we barely knew how to light matches, much less smoke a cigarette, much LESS smoke a little tiny stump from an unfiltered and jagged end. Nevertheless, we tried. Oh how we tried. The occasional coughing fit was enough evidence that we were doing shit the right way and I left the whole situation with three distinct thoughts. 1) I was terrified that I was going to smell like smoke and my mom would bust me. 2) I was probably a little better at smoking than Jon was and 3) We were, by far, the coolest kids in school. Duuuuuuuude!
So, after that, things were underway. Um, my friend Eric and I, inspired by a Dead Milkmen song, smoked banana peels the next year. Unfortunately, no one told us how to do this and we were pretty unaware of the laws of basic smoking, so we just kind of tried to light one end of the peel and suck the other end. It seems stupid now, but man, we were in sixth grade! At least we were trying new things, right? I don’t know, that may have even been seventh grade. Whatever, it was a disaster of an experiment. For future generations out there, when you smoke banana peels, what you want to do is scoop out the white shit on the inside of the peel and dry it out, in an oven or in the sun. Then, once it’s totally dry, you put the crumbly shavings in a pipe or you roll it in a paper and smoke it. The result is a really sweet headache that should last about three hours. Again, awesome.
Later that year, in the summer, Chris and I snuck out of my house and cruised up past all the lakeview area’s big, black tranny hookers (this was a long time ago, people) to the Gyros place that used to be on Broadway just north of Oakdale before that whole area completely turned over. We used quarters in the cigarette machine and bought a pack of Marlboro reds. The guy behind the counter, who I remember as having a mustache, looked up and saw our shaking hands and said, “gotta have those smokes, huh? I know how it is. Sometimes you just need one, right?”
Which led to this quick exchange between me and Chris:
“Oh, yeah! Right! Totally. We’re totally jonesing.”
“I don’t know dude, what would you say?”
“I don’t know man, but jonesing sounds a little passé…maybe having a nic-fit?”
“Anyway, thanks dude! See you later.”
“Good night boys”
We snuck down to the Chicago Historical Society which has a giant statue of Abe Lincoln standing in front of a giant chair in the back field. We climbed up into this chair and sat there and smoked for a few hours, practicing inhaling, critiquing each others’ techniques of dragging from the cigarette, holding the cigarette, putting out the cigarette and so on. We discussed our reasons for starting to smoke, the main one being that girls smoke and if we smoked too, we’d have a nice conversation starter. Namely: “Hey, got a smoke?” Because, as we all know, girls just peel off their panties at the first sign of a strange guy mooching off them. It was a moment of divine inspiration, but unfortunately for Joe Camel’s hungry babies, it didn’t stick. We didn’t really start smoking that night. It was just practice, so eventually we could hit the ground running (now THAT is a deliciously ironic metaphor in this case…cuz, you know…running, smoking, they both make me barf…anyway.)
Okay, so fast forward a few years (summer before freshman year) to hockey camp. This was where I met this Indian guy named Dev from DC and we decided that we’d take up smoking as a real endeavor. I was all trained up at this time, and so, presumably, was Dev. The place we went was for dudes of all ages to play, so there were guys who were in their twenties and thirties who were up in this complex who were semi pro, from junior B to major A, and even a couple of low tier NHL dudes, just keeping in shape over the summer, and as such the commissary in the complex sold smokes.
So, yeah, we started smoking, along with EVERYONE at the place. The hockey was seriously just a front for the smoking camp that went on there. This is where I learned to blow smoke rings, and it was fun, kind of like that island in Pinocchio, because the counselors were just hockey dudes who wanted to drink and smoke, so there was no authority in the place.
I was friendly with some of the counselors and they’d come into my room at midnight and wake us up with a case of beer and some smokes and we’d just hang out for a while. Again, there was no other authority in the complex. Lovely time, for sure. There was also a kid there who was rumored to have fucked his own sister…so there’s that.
At hockey camp, I was told that if you smear toothpaste on your cigarette, and let it dry then smoke it, you’ll get high “a very brief but very powerful high”. Of course, we all tried it, and (SPOILER ALERT) of course it doesn’t get you high.
I quit smoking about ten years later, thanks in no small part to inspiration from my friend Toby, in Austin Texas by duct taping my fingers together and drinking beer to heighten the desire for a cigarette and then finding myself unable to have one, as my fingers were duct taped together, I’d be forced to find something else to occupy my time, like another beer or push ups or figuring out how I would have ever talked to any girls without using cigarettes as a mechanism. But quitting smoking is like coming back into earth’s atmosphere in the shuttle. There’s a window, and if you hit the window (you’re mentally prepared, you’re serious, you want it, you’ve got support that works for you) it’s relatively painless, but any other time, you’re fucked. That’s my experience, at least.
I’ve heard stories of this dude who lives in his mom’s basement and pulls bongs of toothpaste when he runs out of weed. Also, and this is all legend, but they say that when people come over and ask him for a hit from his bong, he fills the bowl with his pubes (yes, that’s what I meant to type. I know.) and just sprinkles a thin veneer of shake over the top so it looks like it’s weed. He apparently doesn’t clean the bong, so regardless of what’s going on, it’s full of pube and toothpaste resin. Mmmmm, mmmm. Good stuff. Enjoy your weekends.