Marika Malaea

faithful marauder + fake royal

Paging Marla Singer

with 7 comments

Photo: That’s my girl. Fight Club forever.

Now that I’m a non-smoker, I see smokers everywhere. Usually this is cause for alarm; with triggers everywhere, how long can I hold out? But as Kathie Lee Gifford might say, “triggers come from within”–and at this point, she would break into song, probably while on board a Carnival cruise. She’s like a modern-day Yoda.

After thinking about it, my triggers are: stress and smoking. So I don’t smoke, and when I’m stressed out (all. the. time.), I have a refreshing V-8. Just kidding! I punch someone in the face, hard, and without mercy. It’s helpful. I haven’t had many cravings, although the other day, I watched a guy put a cig out with his shoe, and then walk off; the cigarette was stuck to the bottom of it, so every time he took a step and the cigarette disappeared, I felt like it was waving good-bye to me. Probably because it was.

The smokers I used to see on the street, back when I started smoking, were actually sort of cool. Of course, I was really young back then and to me, ‘cool’ was anything I wasn’t: stylists with edgy haircuts wearing all black, sharply-dressed gay men, bull dykes with chain wallets on badass Harley’s, rockabilly pin-up girls and their bouffant-loving boyfriends, ‘fast women’, and older people who used the word ‘fuck’ in their conversations as much as they used the word ‘and’. There were others–artists, thugs, secret smokers, and roommates–but at the time, those were the people who shaped my idea of what a smoker was, or rather, the kind of person I thought I could become one day. I don’t know why I thought the world was ready for a Samoan Betty Page, but the ‘cool’ factor I sought through smoking never really revealed itself.

Now there’s a sameness to the people I see smoking today. Maybe it’s because I’ve adopted a different group now (the ‘new, fragile non-smokers who need lots of love’ group–although I’m looking forward to joining the ‘newly-converted, high and mighty non-smokers who preach to current smokers about how stupid they are’ group), or maybe it’s wishful thinking, but the quality of our smokers has gone way, way down. This used to be a club for beautiful people like Marlene Dietrich, but now it’s for the Marla Singers of the world (although I loved her, too, wholly and undeniably).

The people I spy smoking downtown nowadays: Penguin waiters (or if they’re liberated, “penguin servers”) in their black-and-whites, smoking fast and loose in front of their restaurants. Women in their early 40’s, with fake tans and too much makeup, smoking ultra-slim cigarettes. The homeless, always. People in ill-fitting clothes, for some reason. The poor, which seems like an oxy moron, because cigarettes are so damn expensive these days. Drug addicts sucking furiously on their cigarettes, chainsmoking on the corner, looking for a real fix. Drama queens who use their cigs to emphasize something in their stories, stabbing the air with a lit cigarette to prove a point. Surly hipsters who have a homeless look about them, except for the pricey pack of Camels in their front pocket and an Iphone glued to their ear. People who wear sunglasses at night (Corey Hart, I’m talking to you). Underage whores in whorewear, talking on their blinged-out, hot pink cell phones, smoking Newport Lights. Old hippies with home-rolled smokes, sauntering around the park in their rock-climbing shoes. Rockabilly men smoking Lucky Strikes, who still make it look like a death-defying lifestyle, rather than a deathwish. Tourists from Jersey, or places like Jersey, who smoke everywhere and don’t care if they’re ashing onto the head of your six-month old baby. Guys who go to Shiny Shirt clubs (and wear shiny shirts, and the shiny-shirted women who love them). Women with crunchy, curly, overprocessed hair. Girls who look like Lindsay Lohan; girls who are Lindsay Lohan. And then, the cab drivers–although generally, they’re either Really For or Really Against smoking. Tell a cab driver you smoke, and he might just light up with you. Tell the wrong driver you smoke, and you’ll get a 10-15 minute lecture on how smoking is bad for you (Newsflash: “You could DIE!”) and a story about a family member who perished from smoking, even after the family member was lectured to, in the very same cab. Then you pay for the lecture, and feel obligated to tip the man, since he sounded much more interested in your health and your future than you had ever been.

This is the best part about being a non-smoker: judging those who do smoke. Also, there’s the health benefits, but I’m interested in things of real value. For the most part, it’s about bringing down the Iron Fist of Judgment upon the Lame and Unworthy, in–your–mind. Don’t go around teaching smokers a lesson by trying to fist them; that’s awkward. Just silently judge them from afar, and feel good about yourself as you throw metaphorical stones from your metaphorical glass house. I’m not saying smokers deserve to be judged (they do, they do!), I’m merely making the statement that YOU DON’T QUIT SOMETHING FOR NOTHING, BUDDY. And, reversely, that’s what you get! I was judged every day! Take my judgment and SMOKE IT, BITCH, while I’m over here hating you! This is my just reward! I’ve never had a leg-up on anyone, with the exception of sarcasm and how many stones I weigh; now I can add Non-Smoker to the list, along with ‘ate a salad this year’ and ‘didn’t punch any strangers today’. That’s called progress.

There was an attractive, underdog quality about Marla Singer that I found positively appealing; I think it was how natural she made smoking look, while at the same time coming off as jagged, desperate, and totally unhealthy. Someday, I hope to make jagged, desperate, and totally unhealthy look natural–effortless, even–without a cigarette. R. Kelly believes I can fly (also? I can touch the sky), and I will put my faith in that.


Written by sn0tteh

July 11, 2008 at 2:44 PM

Posted in shmokin'

7 Responses

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  1. Really like this post a lot. I recently started smoking again after quitting for a while. Now I want to quit again and reading this post gives me more incentive!


    July 11, 2008 at 4:48 PM

  2. Blow bubbles instead! I’m not kidding! That’s what we do in our apartment building, together. Obviously I’m not standing downtown, blowing bubbles at the bus stop, but I would. I WOULD.

    Quit! Do it! Kathie Lee Gifford wants you to.

    Snotty McSnotterson

    July 11, 2008 at 5:06 PM

  3. I think you might be able to keep more crazy people away from you downtown if you DID blow bubbles at the bus stop!


    July 11, 2008 at 5:32 PM

  4. This was pure joy to read…


    July 11, 2008 at 9:01 PM

  5. Bee, you have all the support in the world from me. I loved smoking, I could NEVER go without a cigarette. I’d smoke in front of anyone, including YOUR parents! I could never be like Auticia who could go all day at work or a weekend without smoking. It was so hard to say good-bye to them-cigs were my best friend, they made me happy when I was sad and calmed me when I was anxious. What more can you ask for from a drug?

    This is all to say that if a dyed-in-the-wool addict like me can quit, you can too. And really, just focus on all those trashy, bad-fashion, nasty smokers in their 50’s, rather than the still- youthful looking hipsters. We’re not aging in reverse…and those hipsters will look old and trashy too someday.

    If you need someone to call to and rant about how much you miss/love cigarettes, I’m here! I’ll join right in with you…


    July 14, 2008 at 4:20 PM

  6. “Don’t go around teaching smokers a lesson by trying to fist them.”

    Why not? Everyone needs a good fisting.


    July 15, 2008 at 3:42 AM

  7. Snotty, don’t you live in Washington? Didn’t they outlaw smoking in public places everywhere?

    As a non-smoker, always a non-smoker, this was a huge relief. And I loved your description of the people who you see smoking (particularly the shiny shirt men loved by the shiny shirt women)…

    And Kathie Lee Gifford is NUTS. NUTS. The Soup’s Joel McHale (whom I have a very public crush on, despite the facts that we are both married to other people) has a field day with Kathie Lee…


    July 22, 2008 at 8:37 PM

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