Back at college, when I'd first started smoking dope, I was a constant source of amusement for the kindly people that got me into it - they gave me dope, I'd sit there and burble out bizarre statements for their entertainment.

There was no malice in this, fun time had by all and all that, I'm just setting the scene. I was a bit new to it all, and had been told to keep the smoke in as long as possible. So of course I had to hold it in longer than anyone else, so I'd look cool, and see how long I could keep it without my chest exploding, while maintaining an exterior appearance of "Dope? Smoking? Not *me*, old chap! I'm well hard, d'you see?" So sometimes, I'd be just about to die, and would wheeze the breath out. But no smoke would come out. I'd breathe out as far and as hard as I could, but still no smoke. Shit, I'd think, the smoke's not coming out.

"Where has the smoke gone?" I'd call out to my mates. They'd look at me blankly, as I pointed at my chest. "Smoke's not coming out," I'd explain.

They'd laugh understandingly, and give me more dope.

This happened lots of times, and it kept getting funnier every time. Their explanation was, I'd done too much, and was babbling, like normal. And I'd laugh, and say yeah, what a crazy rock and roll guy I am.

But you know what? I *still* say the smoke never came out. It must have been absorbed into my internal organs, and gone off into corners and committed terrible atrocities. Or just had a laugh. Maybe it's still in there.

Watching.

Waiting for it's chance.

And one day I'll be at a job interview or meeting the Pope or bridging an important peace agreement between two warring countries, and just as world peace or my sainthood or my commission as CEO of ICI is about to be made public, I'd scream: "Fuck! Fucking smoke's coming out! I fucking *told* you!"

These days, people don’t smoke cigarettes.

Ersatz philosophers expound upon points, punctuating a particularly pertinent philosophical musing with a tilted head and a puff of smoke.

Budding authors use their discomfort with natural dialogue as an excuse for Sandy to say something “as she takes a drag off her cigarette.”

The social discontented imitate chimneys as their rebellion against the only thing left to rebel against - life. “Yes,” says Jason as he takes a drag off his cigarette, “I know these are going to kill me someday.” The defiance in his eyes screams the undertone “it’s better than suicide.”

The socialites arch their backs and close their eyes when leaving behind the newest train; the cloying scent announcing to all in their wake that they can afford the foreign kind.

Nobody smokes except maybe the old man on his front porch in the summertime, but that’s a pipe, and those don’t count anyhow.

I suppose you can thank the Truth ads, they hit ‘em while their young. People claim those adds to be a monumental step forward, but I can’t see them as anything different than those “cool” kids who are rumored to have sat around with infinite cartons of cigarettes, handing them out to whatever poor unsuspecting preteen comes up. There’s still someone “cooler” than you are dictating what choice you should make. Now it’s considered “uncool” to smoke unless you have an agenda, and even if you do, you’d better be ready to stand up and argue your right to suicide. Smoking isn’t the type of thing a person does to fit in with the crowd. People just don’t smoke anymore.

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