I wanna get down lower than Atlantis

January 5, 2009

A pall has fallen.
The sort of pall that falls only, suddenly and stark eyed, after the good people of Oregon have just gotten what they voted for all those months ago.
As I am a bad person who will get exactly what she deserves when she winds up in a wheelchair with oxygen tank and no voice behind her great big anti fascist mouth, I vigorously opposed losing my right to smoke my cigarettes in the bars that have served me breakfast lunch and dinner on more than ten sad empty refrigerator occasions. By vigorously opposed I of course mean shot off my mouth a whole lot and did nothing of any actual significance about it. Not that I really suppose I could have done anything about it, except maybe smoke more than I ever have in my life this past year to premedicate the impending insult and injury.
Some friends and I went to one of our neighborhood bars last night for the first time since the smoking ban went into affect and it was a dismal gathering.
I walked into the bar, took off most of my layers, ordered my Pabst and sat in a big delicious booth with massive old wooden table and candle in jar; I took my first sip of beer and fumbled for my purse; I pulled out my cigarettes, automatically scanning the tabletop for its ashtray, and the pall fell.
No more smoking in bars.
No more smoking even in bars like this, with its ancient wood and peeling plaster, glowing neon signs circa my early childhood, and floors caked with generations of dried forgotten dna.
You know that ‘phantom limb’ phenomenon where amputees experience the sensation of still having the removed limb? I swear to god I underwent severe phantom cigarette syndrome last night. I drank my beer and twiddled my fingers and made conversation and was very very fidgety. I looked around at the dear, familiar cliché I was sitting inside and felt like a stranger in my own land. I fidgeted absentmindedly around the table for the ashtray some more; I realized with new desperation the utter lack of loophole over and over again. I felt like Nick in Freaks and Geeks when he’s out of weed:
‘What do people do when they’re not high?’
A: ‘Relate to each other.’
But we looked at each other and all we could relate was our loss and longing. Come back, precious smoke filled bars, we didn’t mean it, we’re sorry and we’ll never do it again and we think you are soo sexy, all the time, oh baby we can’t resist you.

What’s going to happen to us, now?
Generations of badassness have been lost in one tiny takeaway leveling the prohibition; the poster of Mick Jagger with his cigarette and huge smoky lips seemed hopelessly lost to time. The dim yellow light sat bluntly on the edges of everything, no wispy curlicues of smoke to interpret the movement of the air. No lighters were passed, drags shared, declarations of needing to quit made; we sat, and we fidgeted. I thought of all the reasons smoking is bad for me, of which there are obvious and terrible many, and the winner by a mile was: the cold.
I went outside in the wet snow and immediately dropped my last halfie into a crack on the sidewalk which of course had to be about an inch deep and full of snow water. I seriously believe the universe mocks me when it’s not off making sure Britney Spears’s career is still in ruins.
I considered having children for the first time. I mean, if you can’t smoke you might as well have kids. My mind fortunately rebelled by reminding me that not being able to smoke in bars is no reason to fold my entire existence into the shape of misery, and curled off into a ball in a corner and refused to be comforted.

The end of an era has arrived and I am concerned not only for myself, but for humanity as a whole.
How will any of the sparkly lunged gum chewing little hipsters of the future with their soapy music and shiny new retro replica clothing ever understand the grimy, ghetto glamorous texture of the glorious past? (that was a lot of g’s, by the way. Did you notice that? Woot, alliteration!)
So wends the world away, I suppose, and no past history can be truly understood by anyone who comes after it, but. I was not ready for such a big, gnarly chunk of my life to be history already. Although that can’t be correct; I was just fine with the passing of cassette tapes and flared jeans. Maybe it’s all a question of what I lose in relation to what I get. There were cd’s and skinny jeans, last time around.
(do not even speak to me about electric cigarettes).
I mourn.
And after that I suppose I will either suck it up and be cold an awfully lot and pray for summer, only summer, god; or I will quit smoking and be very healthy and fantastically successful in all areas of my life.


4 Responses to “I wanna get down lower than Atlantis”

  1. Jason Bennett Says:

    unfortunately, children aren’t nearly as enjoyable as cigarettes.

    oh, and: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aiZin5y4PQ


  2. Alain B Says:

    You’re calling me the fascist when you -smokers- have been subjecting me -non-smoker- to your cancer-inducing habit that has been scientifically proven to kill people by proximity?

    Who is the fascist now?

    Also, smoking stinks. Literally. I am glad. GLAD that I will not be slimed by noxious tobacco smoke when I spend 15 seconds in Shanghai Tunnel.


  3. Holly Says:

    oh, love of god, alan! it’s called freedom of choice. you subject your own damn self to noxious tobacco smoke when you CHOOSE to go to certain bars. i have yet to fascistly blow my noxious smoke directly into your face, depriving you of your choice, but you’re kinda making me want to…
    we (smokers) have no choice now. we are being told how to live. just wait until the next prohibition, then all you hoity toity, pink-lunged, precious little non-smokers can know what it’s like to have something you enjoy in life become illegal. or even better, you have to drink outside, standing, in the middle of winter. you watch through the window, shivering, while the waitress clears your food off the table because she thinks you left.


  4. Jason Bennett Says:

    haha fun. yeah, and now i’m starting to hear chatter about 3rd hand smoke! Apparently, the smell that lingers on a smoker can be harmful to other people’s health. i just wonder where it ends!

    im fine with not smoking in bars, however, as i feel bad for the people that work there. however, i do hope to see accommodations made for smokers, be it better, heated, covered patios or whatever. we still deserve to do what we want.


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