It seemed like the most decadent, delightful thing in the world. Standing there on a balcony overlooking Elliott Bay, half past midnight, as a beautiful woman handed me a long, thin black cigarette. She lit it for me, and as I discovered the sugary taste to the filter and the heady, thick taste of the smoke I looked out into the rain, and the dark, and the lights of the ships in the harbor.

"It suits you," she said. I had never smoked before.

Decadent. A cigarette imported from the other side of the planet, laced with exotic flavors, the same hue as the velvet of her dress. I put an arm around her, and someone took our picture; she said later I looked like her bodyguard, standing there, looking confidently at the camera.

Spider Robinson once wrote that it is much easier to act aristocratic if you have a cigarette in your hand. I have occasionally found this to be true, although it is by no means necessary. But nothing quite matches the strangeness, the feeling of grand dissipation, of that first clove cigarette.