Hi gang, I know I’m slacking a little bit, but other adventures got in the way of posting to my challenge. Here’s the last two days combined (again).
I’m going to take a break from the Ron tale today. I’m finding myself trying to recreate a screenplay, and feel I’m not describing enough detail for the medium. Not to mention I’m falling into that present tense thing and it’s not moving the story to my liking. I’ll revisit the tale soon.
You know I gave up stewarding automobiles about eleven years ago? Well, I did. Shortly thereafter I got busted drunk on a moped, really putting nails in that particular coffin. So, I’m a lover of public transportation. Trains top my list, and you will find me walking an extra 6 blocks to take the light rail. The expense of taking the train depends on the day. Yes, indeed a jaunt to downtown from my present live sitch costs $2.25. However, one must take into consideration the unseen cost of having to bum cigarettes to other would be passengers as I wait for the train. I’ve stopped bumming now, as the average expense adds somewhere around an additional dollar to my trip. Now, some of you are like,”Max what are you doing still smoking at your age?” To this I must reference the importance of vice.
A peculiar thing happens when you refuse someone a smoke at the train platform. Here’s a generic rundown of the events:
Hey (brother, man, dude) can I (have, buy, bum) a cigarette?
Me: No, I’m not going to give you a cigarette.
Mooch: You fucking faggot, (insert generic insult based on my appearance)
Really, it’s like that. Bro to Fucking Faggot. Usually right after I turn the mooch down. Insert 0-60 analogy here. I ignore any further conversation. Mind you, I’m normally swirling various other thoughts in my head, and genuinely distracted by my own thoughts, but generally I’m barraged with fighting words to which I never respond. Watching the transformation of a human wanting that nic fix from casual to combatant I’ve begun to enjoy. In fact, I find the switch fascinating, and it has become a study. Of course, I don’t always deny, and in fact more often than not I’ll relent to giving a ciggie away. But the transformation has become so interesting that I’ve started to plan to arrive at the platform smoking.
Yesterday, at Union Station, I had a moment between the Boulder bus and my train. I lit up at the proscribed distance, and watched the liminal citizens transfer in between buses and trains. I heard a young man begin his appeal for one of my smokes behind me, and without turning I interrupted his appeal with the standard “No, I’m not going to give you a cigarette.” Keeping the standard response consistent is one of the controls within my study. This kid went livid, and quickly. I never saw his face, but I did catch a glimpse of his attractive and now embarrassed girlfriend. But he couldn’t stop yelling at me, even as he walked away. He was a marvel of entitlement. He even called my sunglasses faggoty. Mind you, the frames are pink, and I know a lot of queer folk who cannot pull them off as well as I do.
A few weeks ago, I was inhaling death at the local stop, and a teenager made an appeal for one of my cigarettes. I removed my earbuds to hear it. He said he couldn’t get his own because he was 17. I nodded in that annoying active listening style, said no, and put my earbuds back in. What was interesting about this was he kept looking to call me into a fight. He was mutely (to my ears) posturing and peacocking about ten feet from me. I easily had 20 pounds on this kid, and at least 4 inches in height, but you probably know I’m not in the business of beating children. The interesting thing about this instance was he had a friend who joined in throwing fighting words at me. I just barely noticed, as I was truly listening to music, and I ended the convo by looking away. When I looked back, these twerps were still barking something, though inaudible to me. I just raised my eyebrows and stared up at the mountains. They retreated to the other side of the platform.
So, that’s my somewhat cruel hobby. Waiting for the train I’ve loaned my cell phone to strangers, given away rolling papers, napkins, and exchanged friendly conversation, but definitely the amount of entertainment that refusing to bum cigarettes to strangers provides demands that I continue the practice.
It further interests me the smoker culture surrounding bumming smokes. As though there’s this brotherhood surrounding the addiction, and asking entitles one to a dose of smoky death. In all instances I refuse to give up a smoke, the party was clearly going to take the cigarette and stroll off in his own dopamine dose. In my mind that’s not the purpose of bumming a cigarette. Indeed, the use of the peace pipe, chanunpa, among the Lakota and relative tribes served the purpose of bringing all those who imbibed into a state of equals, flushed as participants would be with dopamine and feelings of goodwill. At this time two or more people can deconstruct ideas and incidents in a way people who don’t smoke may never get. Beyond the obvious shared addiction, sharing a smoke levels the classes. The drug part of it eases people into a state of comfort, the step away part always lends perspective, and when this is a shared experience the solipsistic is overcome.