Out of curiosity, I picked up my first stick of poison roughly two years ago (I fail to remember): Marlboro Lights, three bucks for that one stick. Lighter: twenty bucks. I was going into this alone and unsure, and so I attempted to light that one stick up and suck on it, only to taste that unpleasant bitterness and feel the roughness of the smoke against my throat. I coughed and I coughed, but I tried a few more puffs, anyway. That’s how people become addicted, right? Surely the good stuff can’t be felt until after trying the vice a few more times.
And so I did. I felt a rush to my head for a good few seconds (maybe five), then I felt my stomach lurch. I was doing this in an empty lot, no restroom to be found anywhere close, so I braced myself against a tree-trunk with one hand and held my stomach with the other. The retching went on forever. My eyes were teary, as I swore at the lighter, the offending object (the cigarette itself was a few feet away, light dying), and I swore to myself to never attempt this again.
I never touched another cigarette for two months. I still loathe Marlboro Lights to this day.
The green tempted me.
It was at a convenience store somewhere in the mid-point, where I transfer from one train-line to another. I had been thirsty, and it was an extremely hot day, and so I decided to purchase a bottle of iced tea from the 7-Eleven across the train station exit. The cigarette packs were placed behind the check-out and beside the condoms, away from the fidgety hands of curious, precocious children. There was a promo or something, I fail to recall–but dead center were boxes and boxes of Marlboros, the green variety, and I should not have let curiosity get the better of me that day, but I did.
A pack of tens for 28 bucks.
It’s a good seven-minute walk from the first train line to the second train line, and in this part of the world, there’s no such things as actual connecting bridges from one train line to another. Over here, it’s mall-buildings and incidental overpasses. It was early, seven in the morning, and so the mall that connected the train-lines was closed. I walked on the streets and lit one up, inhaling the same smoke I once had, the same thing I refuse to never do again, except somehow, there is a coolness that made this all much more bearable. Must be the menthol.
To this day, I religiously smoke one of three things: Marlboro Black Menthols, Marlboro Ice-Blasts, and Lucky Strike Clicks.
The sin tax has fucked my wallet to bankruptcy and will continue to do so, but my lungs crave for these, anyway. Lately, I have been using matchsticks instead of lighters. I find that the taste of the cigarettes improve tremendously when lit this way. Perhaps it is because I taste wood and phosphorus instead of lighter fluid. Or maybe it is because matchboxes are cheaper than lighters.
I can talk about how the best smokes I’ve had were with coffee, or with good beer, or after sex in Europe, out in the cold — but those are all stories for another time, I guess.