Another ‘Spartan Daily’ column

Me and Jesse Helms against the world

I’ve been a smoker for five years now and I’m getting cranky.

First, the cafeteria was declared a no-smoking zone. Then the Pub was declared a no-smoking zone. Even the residence halls might become smoke-e.

What the hell do I have to do to smoke in peace? Move to North Carolina?

Granted, we smokers are a dying breed. But it angers me that I have fewer rights than spotted owls. They can smoke wherever they want. They could even share cigarettes with lumberjacks (who, thanks to the owls, have more than enough time on their hands).

This scourge against smokers has roots in my hometown, Walnut Creek (California). Walnut Creek was one of the first cities to enact a no-smoking ordinance in restaurants. I knew it was the start of something ugly. Unfortunately, few lawmakers listen to underage smokers.

I started smoking while I lived in Germany, where the standard birthday present for an 8-year old is a Zippo lighter and a pack of unfiltered Camels (no, not really). Every afternoon at 3 o’clock, my host mother would put my host brother down for a nap, and then go to the kitchen in search of coffee and cigarettes.

At that time, I didn’t partake of either vice. Until the day I got tired of saying “no” and demanded both.

It was all downhill from there.

I’m really excited that cigarette companies are offering incentives to smoke. Many brands offer “miles” or “cash” on the pack. Most people save these green stamps of death for jackets or ashtrays or hats. I’m saving up for the iron lung.

The thing that bugs me about non-smokers is that so many of them reek of piety. I am very conscientious about secondhand smoke and even carry cigarette butts for blocks while searching for a garbage can (butts aren’t biodegradable).

Regardless, whenever I light up I catch glances from those holier-than-thou non-smokers and I know what they’re thinking: “Eeeeew, that’s so gross. Don’t you know you’re hurting my body and yours by exposing us to lethal toxins?” I want to respond “Yes, and I’m hoping that my filthy habit will keep you away from me.”

In times of extreme crisis, people tend to band together. The same goes for smokers. I have forged friendships with the opening line of, “Thank God! You’re a smoker, too!”

Most parties I’ve been to lately have resembled junior high school dances, except it’s the non-smokers on one side of the room and the smokers on the other. Funny thing, the smokers always have more fun… While leaving my 3 p.m. storytelling class last week, I stepped outside and fumbled for my cigarettes. As I lit up, I heard a classmate’s voice behind me, “You shouldn’t smoke — it’s so gross. ” I turned to agree and saw the Marlboro Light in her mouth. I smiled. “Need a match?”

I know that smoking is disgusting. I know that it kills people. And I don’t intend to be a smoker for the rest of my already-shortened life. But hey, in the meanwhile, nobody likes a quitter.