I need to know something. I don’t know if you want to tell me or not, but I really don’t care. You’re gonna tell me or you’re gonna find yourself in a world of trouble. I’m already ****** and it won’t take much to push me over the edge into dangerously angry territory.
No, **** it. Never mind. I’m ALREADY in “dangerously angry territory”. No, it wasn’t your fault. I was already close enough I could see the other side of reason before you came along.
But it would still be nice to know, if you’re willing to tell me. I mean, I’m not going to force it from you. That was the plan just a moment ago, but I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided that my bitterness is not your fault. I won’t make you pay for it.
Yet I do feel as if it would do me a world of good to know.
Where were you when I was falling in love?
Were you sitting in a back seat of a crowded subway train with a cup of Starbucks coffee in one hand and a copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” in the other, holding it in front of your face as if it’s pages were a fascinating mirror? Was there an old man sitting near who turned to look at you every so often to the point where it creeped you out? Maybe you eventually said something to him, like “Excuse me, but is there something you wanted to say to me?"
“Why would you get that idea?” he would ask, as if he were totally oblivious to his invasive nature.
“I don’t know…you just keep looking at me and I wondered if there were a reason for it.”
“Nope. Not that I can think of.”
Did you smack him real good right then? Did you draw blood? I hope you did. I hope the driver had to stop the train to come back and drag you off of him. It would have been a real drag if the police had to be summoned, but on the other hand, wow, how ****** the thought of you resisting arrest.
Or did you cower into your corner, turn a page in your book and let the lecherous ******* carry on? I don’t think so. I really don’t think so. I don’t think that’s the kind of girl you are. I think you’re a firecracker.
And I think that wherever you were when I was falling in love is not where I wanted you to be. Not where you should have been.
Because I fell in love with a robot. Who knows why I fell in love with an ottoman? I didn’t know she was one at the time. Do you really think I’m stupid enough to fall in love with a machine? No, she was flesh and bones when I met her. She seemed normal, like all the other women I’ve ever seen or known.
But then she started smoking cigarettes. She carried them around in a little soft leather pouch that could be mistaken for nothing else but a case for holding the little *******.
God I hate cigarettes. I hate the smell of them, whether they’re lit or not. I hate the dark tan color of their filters with the little white dots speckled randomly. I hate the cotton that stuffs their filters. I hate the white paper with the almost imperceptible stripes banding around their length. I hate how the brand is stamped close to the base of the filter. I hate the packages that they come in and the cellophane that wraps them. I hate how stray flecks of tobacco gather in the bottom of the boxes and the wrappers, too. I hate how they make a person’s breath stink. I hate how they make a person’s clothes reek. I hate the way they look in a shirt pocket. I hate the way they look between people’s fingers and in their mouths. I hate the way they burn down to the nub and the ash that they leave behind. I hate pitch black nicotine stains on ******* smokers’ hands. I hate the way some people put one between their ear and noggin and actually think it makes them look cool. I hate how smokers seem to have some code of sharing, how it’s always “Hey, can I *** a smoke from you?” and 99 times out of 100 the answer is “sure”. It’s never, “Okay, but you gotta pay me back.” Oh no, Smoker’s Karma is at work here. I hate the way too many people call ‘em “smokes”. “I’m off to get a pack of smokes.” Good God, I think that’s lame. “Smokes”. Ha. I hate the way smokers ***** about laws that prohibit them from smoking in public and how so many of them have absolutely no regard for non-smokers who not only can’t stand the smell of the ******* but would just as soon not chance even the most remote possibility of getting lung cancer caused by second hand smoke. I hate how smokers would tell that person, “Oh, don’t be ridiculous. The chances of that happening are one in a million.” So what? *******. ******* with your nasty cancer sticks and **** your tar-lined wheezing lungs, too. **** the death bed you will lie on when emphysema steals your last breath. **** the oxygen tanks that cost almost as much as all the cartons of cigarettes you have wasted your money on during the last who-knows-how-many years of your life. **** all your attempts to quit. **** the feeling of disappointment that overwhelms when you fail once again, as Mighty God Tobacco hugs you, strokes your wet hair, wipes the sweat from your forehead and the tears from your eyes. Sweet summer sweat. The tears of a clown.
You know what? She never smoked before. I never would have thought she would pick up that disgusting habit, but she sure as hell did. Picked it up like it was a twenty dollar bill someone lost that she found on the side of the road as she walked to the smoke shop to buy another pack of Marlboro Lights.
There’s another thing I hate about cigarettes. “Smoke Shops”. Where the value-minded smokers purchase their wares. Not “Cigarette Store”. Not “Tobacco Warehouse"…oh, no. It’s a SMOKE SHOP. You’re going to buy some smoke, brother Jim. You’re gonna spend too much money at the 7-11 and it’s all gonna go up in smoke, but by the grace of God you are gonna save a couple of bucks by purchasing them at the “Smoke Shop” instead of the convenience store. You complain until you’re blue in the face about how ridiculously high the ciggy prices are at normal retail outlets, but when you run out of ‘em and the God-blessed “Smoke Shop” is closed ‘cuz it’s Sunday you’ll drive like a madman to Love’s and blow ten bucks because there’s a “Buy Two Get One Free” special going on. What a ******* good deal that is, eh, mister?
Furthermore…CIGGYS??? I hate how people call ‘em “ciggys”. But not nearly as much as I hate the word “cigarette”. I cannot stand to speak the word. I hate the way it rolls of my tongue. I hate the way the word sounds like it means “little cigars”.
I hate the way some smokers empty out their car ashtrays in the parking lot. I hate the way all the butts look lying there in a heap, a pile of paper soaked with the spittle of a hundred different mouths. And yet the nicotine python grips some desperate smokers so tightly that they will pick them up and try to smoke the last tiny flecks of tobacco from their crushed and blackened ends. I’ve even seen people extract the remaining **** from several discarded butts, roll it all up in a Zig Zag paper and smoke it. Don’t these people even know what Zig Zag papers are for? They sure ain't for tobacco, Charter.
“Butts”. There’s another word in the smokers lexicon that just sounds silly. “Smoke ‘er down to the ****, Jack, we’ve got more!” “I don’t have an ash tray, Terry, so just put your BUTTS in that half empty soda can over there on the table”…never thinking that there might be someone else at the party who could very likely mistake that particular pop can for his own and take a mighty swig from it. Oh my God, the thought, it gags me. How nauseating it would be to feel one of those wretched things fall against your lips and…Egad…the flavor…and yet the cruel smoker will laugh at such misfortune.
God help me.
She was not a robot when I met her. Oh, no, she was a beautiful, exciting, passionate loving woman with a heart of gold and a desire that was practically insatiable. Here…take a look, I have a photograph in my wallet. See what I mean? That’s right, daddy-O, she was a real dreamboat. I used to carry this picture with me wherever I went…I guess I still do, huh? But I don’t know why. I don’t know why I torture myself looking at it, remembering what was, all we had, our bright and glorious future wrecked and deserted by her newfound proclivity for smoking cigarettes. Yeah, my friend, she was a real keeper. But you know what? **** her now, y’know? Just turn her over and **** her.
But hey…perhaps I’ve been too harsh on the smoker in general (if not to her…no, not to her). Perhaps I have exaggerated a bit. After all, some of my best friends smoke. It’s their business, not mine. Never has been mine. I know that. If they knew how I felt about the whole thing, whose to say they wouldn’t tell me to ****** off and never come back? Then again, if they are so shallow as to take any of this as a personal insult, then maybe, just maybe they aren’t my friends after all. I doubt the robot would want anything more to do with me if she knew what a stalwart anti-smoker I am. But I thought she felt the same. She DID feel the same. She told me as much. Before she lost her soul. Before she started smoking cigarettes. Before she started bumming ciggys.
I got no time for changes in her life so now I ask you again…where were you when I was falling in love?
Were you sitting in a Pentecostal Holiness church on a hard pew early Sunday morning before the service began, thumbing through the hymnal, looking for one that best expressed your feelings of devotion at that point in your spiritual journey? And what would that hymn have been? “Onward Christian Soldiers”? “Peace in the Valley”? “In the Garden”? “Smoke on the Water”? “Hotel California”? Maybe some obscure Black Sabbath song tucked in at the end of the book, next to the Doxology?
Did your hair shimmer, reflected in the light that poured through the stained glass window directly behind you? Did you feel it’s heat on your neck? Did it draw out beads of perspiration there, glistening? Would you have let me lick them and taste their saltiness even in the sanctuary of the church building? Probably not. But I don’t think the idea would repulse you like it would some other bonnet headed midi-skirt wearing holy rollin’ *****.
Maybe I would have asked you outside so that you might feel a little more comfortable with what I’d had in mind.
And maybe you would have told me “no”. I couldn’t blame you for that. No, I wouldn’t. It’s only natural for a real woman to guard her integrity in situations such as this one. I could not hold that against you.
Is that where you were? I need to know. Where the hell were you when I was falling in love?