Sunday, February 26, 2012

Does somebody "up there" hate me?

Every time I try to quit smoking, I start finding nearly full packages of cigarettes on the street. It's only two or three times a week, but that's enough to throw me off my quitting. I know, it's all up to me, even if I am fated to be tempted. I accept that. It's my addiction, and the terrible consequences to my health and social status I have trouble accepting. It seems like a hell of a price to pay for sticking something in my mouth and setting it on fire. A cigarette might as well be a stick of dynamite, except that it works a bit more slowly.

I really enjoy the strangeness of these gifts from hell. There's another funny thing about this "free" tobacco. Never, not once- and we're talking about at least fifty packs of smokes in the last three years- has a found pack been damaged in any way whatsoever, or less than two thirds full, unless it was a pack of menthol or light cigarettes. Weird, eh? There's more... Never, not once, have I found an undamaged pack of menthol or light smokes. Of these, in almost every case the damage is far from total- most have been run over once, but probably not more than once- and only a few times were the packs much less than half full. Usually all but one or two of the cigarettes were acceptably intact. OK, I think that's enough cigarette statistics for now, don't you?

Now for some analysis. Why do I find cigarettes? Because they're there. And because I'm looking. More on looking- and finding- later. Maybe. Unless I forget, or change my mind. Why are there packs of perfectly good cigarettes lying in the street everywhere I go? I have (at least) a couple of ideas:

Once, about a hundred years ago, I was riding with a friend in his car over California Highway 9 toward Santa Cruz, a twisty mountain road. It was a ten year old Subaru, and it was red. You don't need to know that, but it could be helpful if you're trying to imagine the scene. And, years before this story took place- in fact years before my friend owned this car- we had discovered that it was possible to start the car using a pocketknife instead of a key, but not possible to turn it off the same way. In fact it wasn't easy to remove the knife, and utterly impossible to remove the marks the knife left. But that's another story. So, the road was twisty and, being young we were traveling just a bit more quickly than we thought was safe. My friend's girlfriend's hairbrush was sliding back and forth along the dashboard as the road tossed us around. I watched this for awhile, cigarette in hand, head nodding in time to something by Motley Crue (supply your own umlaut) until on one particularly sharp curve the brush slid right out the window. As I mentioned, this happened long ago so I don't remember whether the brush went out the passenger side or otherwise and it doesn't matter, though I think now that it's unlikely to have been the driver side window, because there's often a hump in the dashboard where it goes over the instrument cluster. What's an instrument cluster, you ask? No? OK, I'll ask. That's the name for the place where you look when you want to read the speedometer or tachometer or ammeter or fuel gauge or odometer- any of the instruments we use to see how our car is doing. What matters is that I was delighted to see that hairbrush go. Why? Well, three reasons:

1. My friend's girlfriend had recently sat upon and destroyed my prescription sunglasses, saying only (and quite mildly) "Oh, that felt expensive." and politely but firmly declining to have anything to do with the repair or- as proved necessary- replacement of my crushed spectacles. It was not very nice of me to be delighted to see that hairbrush fly out of the car, never to be seen by any of us again... but I was right to be delighted because

2. it was highly amusing and

3. instructive, although the instruction only came years later. Some other time I'll tell you about what happened to those replacement prescription sunglasses- it was just as sad, and just as funny. The instructive aspect is that I later lost a pack of cigarettes the same way that hairbrush was lost. I suspect this is a common way of losing packs of cigarettes. And, as I explained above, I have apparently stumbled into a lifestyle ideally suited to finding lost packs of cigarettes, though not usually packs I have lost.

OK, that's it- I'm done for the day, except for this:

There are other things I find on the street in uncommonly generous numbers. Clip-on LED bicycle lights. Short 3/8 inch ratchet extenders. 10mm ratchet sockets. (These last two are tools commonly kept in automobiles.) Bic brand cigarette lighters, always perfectly functional, and usually quite full of fuel. Wheel balancing weights. Don't know what a wheel balancing weight is? Look it up, I have to take a leak, and I'm tired of typing. Besides, what would you do if I weren't around? You've got to learn to answer your own questions! I may be abducted by extra-terrestrials tonight and taken up to the mother-ship to interpret for Elvis Presley. No, that isn't likely, not on Sunday night. That sort of thing happens mid-week, at least around here. How do they do it in your neck of the woods? Let me know- use the comments box and/or send an e-mail!

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