There was a time in my life where I attempted to smoke. And the occasions in which these attempts arose were primarily liquor- laced. I was not an actual smoker but let's face it, alcohol has been helping us make poor decisions for centuries.
And then I tried something new. A spicy, sweet, tasty treat. The clove cigarette. My best girlfriends in college, Muppet, KitKat, KariO and Smack and I would go in our rooms and put towels beneath the door (as if that flimsy cotton would stop that super strong stench from seeping out in the hall. Why not smoke the ganja? Or cat shat. Those two things smell just as mysterious and secretive.) But oh how we loved to feel like superstars, after all, to us the clove cigarette was the smoking choice of the classy lassy. The good thing about clove cigarettes is you really could not smoke many of them. Three in a row and your mouth, throat and lungs would bleed.
Ironically, I detested the smell and taste of regular cigarettes but the potpourri cigarette? Slide me a that sorority cup full of Keystone and apparently, I am Puff the Magic Dragon.
But this bad habit stuck with me off and on post-undergrad, post-grad school AND my move to Atlanta. One night my girlfriend and I are out at a fab restaurant / bar (this was years ago and before the sweeping smoking ban across America). As we were all dolled up and smoking our clove cigarettes, one of the surly bartenders actually yells: WHO THE F___ IS SMOKING THAT _____ CLOVE ______ CIGARETTE? Well, several eyes turn towards us. Our feeble smiles are met with GET THE ________ OUT OF THIS BAR! Ouch. Apparently, we did not need to offer him one.
And yes, when he said Get the F out he really and truly meant it. Excuse me, according to the quality show Cops, you only get thrown out of bars if you 1. start a fight 2. wear cut off jean shorts 3. remove your shirt 4. Say things like "F the Po-Po" 5. are a man because women who do nothing OR do ALL of those things simultaneously get asked to stand up on TOP of the bar and dance.
Fast forward to the next year and at yet another sultry lounge with guys and dolls, I am all glammed up (in my opinion) and feeling sassy. I light up my fancy Turkish imported clove cigarette and smoke it up like an episode of Mad Men. A fabulous girl in a smashing dress turns toward me and asks, "Oh, is that a clove cigarette?"
I answer, "oui" with a smile. She says, "I used to love those! I smoked them in 8th grade!"
The thing is, she wasn't being mean. But here was my sickly sweet smoky parade and her "8th grade" comment was the rain all upon it. Did it deter me? Not quite yet.
Later that year, I noticed that I was getting headaches, wretched and frequent. A friend said one night after I inhaled some Advil that perhaps the disgusting clove cigarette, albeit occasional, was the culprit. Why yes, I believe you are right. And I never touched another one.
Now the simple smell of cigarette smoke ails me. And the smokers are banned from virtually every restaurant and bar in the U.S. The rule doesn't make it any easier for true smokers but it certainly makes me appreciate I am over my clove cigarette phase.