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On one of many cigarette breaks that I took over the course of the long weekend, I got to talking with a stranger outside of a bar who needed a light.
In the midst of our drunken conversation, we got onto the subject of smoking cigarettes in the 70s and 80s. How cool must it have been to be able to rip a lung dart in the middle of a crowded dance floor? Or plop down onto a barstool at a local hole in the wall and light up with a glass of whiskey after a long day at the office?
At first, I thought to myself, “Yeah!” That’d be fucking awesome. But the longer I thought about it the more I began to remember my childhood in the late 90s. My parents, in their 40s at that time, still had the energy to meet their adult friends for dinner or cocktails on the weekends.
I’d obviously be left at home with a babysitter, but if I really think about it I can almost taste the smoke on my parents’ clothes after they’d come home from a restaurant. Think about that for a second. If you weren’t a smoker you just had to accept the fact that anytime you went anywhere, you could expect to be bombarded with cigarette smoke. You don’t like it? Go to the non-smoking section (which I’m sure was just as bad as the smoking section in terms of second-hand smoke).
In 1997 when Titanic hit movie theaters across the country, I was still far too young to see it and definitely unable to be left alone in a house for more than an hour or so.
After what I’m sure was a long week at work for both of them, my parents, more than likely fed up with two children under the age of 6, called a babysitter and told her they’d be home by midnight. They were headed to an early screening of Titanic and then out to dinner with friends afterward.
I remember them walking in the house after their dinner with the undeniable stench of cigarette smoke on their jackets. To my knowledge, my mom and dad have never been smokers.
The point of that terrible story is that in ‘97 you might as well have been a smoker. The minute you step into a crowded bar in 1997, or really any time before they passed all of those indoor smoking bans, you’ve essentially smoked a pack due to the second-hand smoke in the air. And that stench stays on the clothes forever. I don’t care how many times you get them dry cleaned or washed.
That was every single weekend for anyone that wanted to go get a bite to eat or grab a drink. That could not have been enjoyable. No one likes smelling like a bowling alley when they get home from the bar.
I have a lot of questions about 80s and 90s culture, but the one question that kept creeping up into the forefront of my mind when I was talking to that stranger who needed a light was this – did people who partied on the weekend have an entirely separate closet for clothing that was going to get exposed to copious amounts of smoke at bars and clubs?
One closet in a dark corner of the basement labeled “Going Out Clothes”, one upstairs in the master bedroom labeled “Non-Going Out Clothes.”
I like to smoke cigarettes. You know I like them, I know I like them, and the guy at the gas station down the street who sells them to me most certainly knows that I like them. But I don’t think I like them enough that I’d want them in bars.
If I had one gripe to Big Tobacco, it would be the odor that hangs around afterward. After I finish a cigarette, the first thing I’m looking for upon re-entry to the indoors is a bathroom so I can wash my hands and get a few squirts of Binaca into my mouth.
I hear people complaining all of the time about others smoking in their vicinity outdoors. Now just imagine if this was the 80s or the 90s.
Shopping malls, restaurants, bars, and any other place of business you can think of – almost all of them allowed smoking indoors.
Outside of a romp in the hay with a friendly girl, I can’t think of another tangible thing which brings me as much joy as a nice, refreshing cigarette. But you know what really gets my jollies off? Personal hygiene. I’m pretty fucking pleased that you can’t smoke cigarettes indoors in the states. We’d all smell like shit 24/7, and that’s just unacceptable to me. .
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