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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Wednesday
Jun212006

On Smoking


Most smokers wish they didn't smoke. I am a non-smoker and I wish I did. It's a dirty habit, of course.. We've all seen the super hip ads starring irascible teens intent on sticking it to tobacco companies. Smoking blackens lungs, causes cancer, makes folks stink.. But most importantly it's oh-so-handy during a night at a bar.

I notice that brother-in-law Dave can inhale great quantities of cigarettes, all the while staring into space. While this smoking festival is underway he appears to be occupied with solving the riddles of the universe and, of course, he always looks super cool. C'mon. Smoking just plain looks cool. If you didn't know what it's doing to their insides it looks sexy.. anything involving lips, sucking and blowing is pretty hot, right? Blame it on James Dean or Katharine Hepburn and all the rest of those sexy smoke sucker stars from back in the day. Point is, Dave looks busy AND COOL.

Me, I try to stare into space whilst wiling away a night at the bar and a strange man will skooch over and say 'you look like you've got a lot on your mind' and attempt to buy me a drink. It's not the buying me a drink part I mind so much as the fact that now I have to make small talk with a strange man.

THEORY: If I had a cigarette clamped between my fingers one would never mistake my staring into space for me 'needing to talk' or being moody. I'd just be enjoying my cigarette, see? Similarly, if I happened to find myself being chatted up by an Undesirable (read: Close Talkers, Low Talkers, Strange Men, Never Shut Uppers etc..) I'd simply excuse myself for a smoke outside.

Smoking lends you the excuse to step away from a boring conversation, light up and ponder the night air. Under the generous guise of not wanting to blow smoke in the faces of others.. you can pull out that Virginia Slim and step away in an attempt to light up and voila! You've extricated yourself from a snoozer of a conversation.. Without that cigarette I'm just the creepy girl standing by herself outside the bar.

In short.. I wish I smoked... but seeing how it kills you.. I guess I'll stick to feeling awkward at bars when everyone heads outside for a smoke break in winter's deep freeze and I sit there twiddling my thumbs, trying to avoid catching the eye of the serial killer eyeballing me from two stools down.

Reader Comments (40)

Smoking IS cool! That's why I'm never quitting. Seriously though, I've used cigarettes as an excuse for everything from getting away from someone to meeting hot guys. "Can I borrow a light?" Hey, something has to make up for the lung cancer part, right?
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTammy
Smoking does look cool and I wish I was a smoker at sometimes....Monica I couldn't agree more!!!!
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
I smoke when I am out at a bar drinking! I don't inhale, i have tried, i just end up in a raging coughing FIT! But I sure do try to look like I am inhaling!
My b/f smokes, it smells, but strangely enough, when I smells ciggy smoke, it makes me miss him, WEIRD I KNOW!
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
"trying to avoid catching the eye of the serial killer eyeballing me from two stools down."

- We must've been at the same bar! I had the red curly wig and foam nose. Next time say hey!

June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJWGacy
monica. When you come home, lets buy us a pack and sit on the porch and smoke ourselves silly so we can get use to the damn things. It's already summer and I havn't lost the (chubbiness?) disgusting fat. So let's give it a whirl eh? And yeah, Dave is a hottie. (Do people still say hottie?) What do I know anymore...I'm fat.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
Jen, not weird at all...I can tell when people light up what they smoke. Marlboro Lights remind me of a good friend, Newports my dad (who quit after 30 years of smoking), and those Nat Shermans of another friend.

And damn, it does look cool. I used to be a drunk smoker, and occassionally I"ll bum one if I'm drunk now. But I'm so glad I never started in earnest. I hope my kid never does.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEDW
is it possible anymore to be a casual smoker? I consider myself to be such, although lately I have to admit, I'm not addicted to it--but, instead, the supreme sh--t that emanates from same in am...it does look cool at night, but the laws rightly slowed down th e bar smokers--who, if they're being honest, love being regulated becuause they did need to cut down the pm smoke...
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJ.T>
$4.83 per day-Camel Light box. $150 per month

All of the above (skirting conversation's, stepping out for a ME moment) true!

Drinking and smoking? How else can I keep my balance, socially?

Feeling like a fuckin' leper in today's society?

You betcha, by golly, wow!

Listening to yourself wheeze in bed?

Delightful.

Letting down everybody that cares for you because of this $tOOpid addiction?

Great for the self-esteem lacking types, like me.

Melanoma coma, strokes, surgery, radiation, chemo, "get your affairs in order" and early death?

I'd continue to fight that urge, dear.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjoe camel
In junior high I really wanted to be a smoker. I even learned to inhale. But it was never a habit I could stick with. Then about 7 years later, while kissing a smoker, I got the distinct feeling that I was licking an ashtray and damn near vomitted in his mouth. That's when I stopped thinking smoking was cool.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
Was just kidding. Could never be a smoker. Tried it to be cool and ended up dizzy and sick as hell. First and last time was in high school. Never again.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
My job here is done.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjoe camel
Few things bother me more than seeing young people smoking, especially teenage girls. And I worry about those Marah boys and their smoking habits. They are too cool to need 'em. I know I sound like an old lady going 'tsk tsk', but friends I have that have smoked for 30 years either look really, really awful or else....they're dead.
June 22, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjls
Smoking? Cool. Drinking? Cooler Drugs? The Coolest.

1) Yes we are all going to die anyway, but lung cancer is a pretty terrible way to die.

*lights up*

2) It makes you look old and ugly before your time

*inhales deeply*

3) It makes you stink.

*gives thanks to the sweet god who invented this amazing tasty treat*
June 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSicksadworld
Oh, this is a dead-on post!

Just what the heck else are you supposed to do then?? IM someone on a cell phone?? Pick your nose?? Go through a purse?? Fish for navel lint?? Those are all worth pursuits, but they're busywork. The air you want is smoky contemplation, and even an unlit cigar is of no avail.

The closest, my dear, is a glass of good single-malt scotch. Neat. In a brandy snifter. You can get lost in good scotch, and people who might be thinking about an approach may think twice if you're immersed in a Speyside sample. In fact, if the bartender is worth his/her salt, they'll call for a moment of silence for the slow-motion pour.

Or for sh*ts and giggles, do the same thing with a Jaeger. I wonder if it's got good legs??
June 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWry Bri
I used to smoke, I feel much better now that I don't but there is nothing in the world that can replace a good smoke break.

I took up smoking in college to make friends, sad, but true. 'Can I have a light' is always a good conversation starter, I met most of my good friends while huddled in a small group on the dorm steps clutching cigarettes in the freezing rain.

There is no other socially acceptable way to take a 5 minute vacation from life by just staring off into space besides having a cigarette in your hand. I'm so jealous of the smokers that get to head outside a couple of times a day for a mental break. You'd be the office weirdo if you stood next to them chewing gum or drinking a juice box or something..

Remember those fake cigarettes they made for people trying to quit that looked like tampons?

June 22, 2006 | Unregistered Commentergingerlemon
I was always jealous of the smokers at work. They had their own little clique. My coworkers now are very equal opportunity - they drag me outside with them to catch up on office gossip.


Mama, I thought your post was funny! I still say hottie.:-)
June 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEDW
Groovy! I'm still cool then! Wait...Better ixnay on the groovay then huh...
June 22, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
I smoke for those exact reasons. Well, not to look cool but because it gives me something to do with my hands while I'm waiting, so that I don't look too pathetic. It's gross and awful blah blah blah, but I have just sitting by idly. Not a good reason, but it's not like I'm chain smoking or anything.
June 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHeather B.
I used to smoke and to be honest, I really miss it. I relish the times that us girls would sit on the stoop, drinking coffee and smiking while talking about everything. It does seem as though cigarettes make it more meaningful, no?
June 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Interesting that the post after this is about being white trash. That's my point on smoking -- it's a dealbreaker for me. No quicker way to look white-t -- even a mullet is less white-t than lighting up a smoke. Gross.
June 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChi
I miss smoking.

But now I do the writing intensely on a bar napkin when I want to escape the public. If anyone interupts, I pretend I don't hear them. Or I sit in the darkest corner possible and look pissed off.
June 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAME
I'm not a big fan of cigar-eets, but I tried a cigar last week and thought it was pretty cool--and too expensive to do on a very regular basis. Great for special occasions though. Next experiment? Pipe smoking.
June 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEight Hour Lunch
The key to staying healthy is smoking something like Luckies. No filter. Its the way to go. The filter has all kinds of gross stuff in it, Like cancer. You avoid that, you cure cancer.
October 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKentucky
I'm a non-smoker and while I have no desire to take up the habit, I do find it sexy. Yes, blame it on the movies I saw when growing up. Virginia slims advertising is, or was, rather clever at getting inside our heads, as well. Read my stories. They fetishize it all, a bit. You can message via Lit.
October 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCine

I agree with Cine... watching an attractive woman smoke a beautiful long white cigarette is very hypnotic, definitely sexy. It's not "white trash" unless the woman smokes a cheapo man's cigarette (i.e., a real stink stick). I know this, because I was the little boy who had no interest in nudie mags... I was too busy adoring the models who posed for the Virginia Slims ads. Now, years later, I've handled enough really nasty chemicals in my life to not let a little cigarette smoke bother me, though I must admit I've always thought of cigarettes as "girlish" and have never smoked. When I finally get off my lazy behind and start dating again, I'll make a point of trying to get a date who's a smoker, rather than one who isn't... because, you see, I'm rather intrigued by the prospect of kissing a woman whose breath smells smoky. ;-) Of course, whether she'll be able to handle a guy like me who likes garlicky Italian food, is another matter...

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarty

None of these reasons offset the bad that comes from smoking. The smell gets EVERYWHERE and never seems to go away, it covers your walls and windows with a sticky brown substance that is all but impossible to wash off, You loos your sense of smell and taste, did I mention the smell?, and of course there's all the diseases it causes.

You may get left behind at a bar or have to think of another way to get out of a boring conversation (I find the bathroom break always works) but you don't have to worry about smelling to high heaven when you come back from that break or always worrying about getting the next one or spending 100's of dollars a year on the habit, or the coughs, or the.....I could go on forever:)

Don't smoke, it's just not worth it.

May 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

I've been smoking for a little while now and at no time have i ever though of stopping

May 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterkrunchy G

I love to smoke!!

May 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKate

every one that says that they like to smoke makes me sick because you are acting silly because you have nothing better to do with yourselves than ruin your bodies. God gave us a natural HEALTHY body for a reason. there is a reason that you werent born with black lungs, a disgusting messed up heart, no silia or avioli, rotten and missing teeth, a serious bladder infection, and cancer of practically the entire body, and tumors all over the place.... but then again it is ur choice if you want to kill yourself.... a sad STUPID COULD OF SAVED YOUR LIFE type of death....

June 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpenguin

I think smoking is a bad and nasty habit. this is comming from a 13 year old if you smoke you will die every cigarette you smoke you are taking a minut off your life.

June 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterkw

u guys that say its "cool" are all pathetic and morons period

June 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterss

gosh, i totally agree with you penguin.

smoking is a horrid, disgusting habit. it always has been and always will be. you people who do it to fit in and shit are very sad, and its time to get some proper friends who don't enjoy killing themselves.

and also, the whole smoking thing is the "it will never happen to me" routine. now, this may sound harsh, but i wish it did. because you're not just affecting yourselves, you're affecting the people around you, and your family and friends. when you smoke, there is over 4000 chemicals in the air, and 90% of deaths from lung cancer are caused by SECONDHAND smoke. that makes me sick to think that there are people with that knowledge out there still continuing to do the damn thing. and when you die from it, which you eventually will, (the average smoker loses up to 21 years of their life) your family and friends are gonna be pretty upset right? you did that. why do it huh? just why?

June 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdisco'd

wait a minute, i meant up to 7-8 years not 21, sorry =S

June 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdisco'd

smoking?! what for?

waste $$ . . harm almost every part of our organs?

ot worth. .i had nv ever try to smoke and nv ever think of wanting to smoke . .

when ever i walk pass the smokers?

they do have a strong "SMELL" which make mi feel so uncomfortable . .

quit smoking is a good choice =)

June 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

smoking is f*k*ng stupid all u do is have a white stik in ur mouth puffin away money n ur life

June 27, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteralex

I just using smoking as a way to relax when im stressed works great

June 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commentereric

o and just to tell u- smoking dosent relax u, it stresses your poor heart and makes it work harder than it needs to. if any thing, smoking does the exact opposite of relaxing u...

July 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpenguin

instead of smoking try doing something else that u enjoy like a hobby u have-(fishing, reading, talking on the phone, drawing, etc.) personally, i dont kno if this is weird, but running "relaxes" me when im stressed about something...

July 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpenguin

Mmmmh... B n H Gold XD

July 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpenguin

i totally agree with you and trust me i'd be smoking away gloriously if it weren't for the fact that it thinens your lips and makes your hair stink!

March 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterfran

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