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Tuesday, 19 August
Smoke Gets Up My Ass

Being once again in the thick of a glorious summer, I have a message for my fellow denizens of Capitol Hill:

BUY YOUR OWN FUCKING CIGARETTES. Please? It's getting kind of ridiculous.

See, the thing is, I normally am a rock-solid follower of the Unspoken Code of Smokers. The rules are pretty simple:

1. If a fellow smoker bums a cigarette, give him one without complaint.

Example:

"Dude, can I bum a smoke?"
"Sure."

2. Unless it is your last cigarette, in which case the fellow smoker will immediately withdraw his request.

"Dude, can I bum a smoke?"
(Opening pack) "Oh, shit, sorry, it's my last one."
"Oh, hey, no problem."

3. Failure to withdraw request for last cigarette is the gravest breach of cadging etiquette.

"Dude, can I bum a smoke?"
(Opening pack) "Oh, shit, sorry, it's my last one."
"Oh, wow, thanks."
"Are you deranged? Get the fuck away from me."
"But--can I . . . ?"
(Shivving the cadger with a sharpened screwdriver) "AAAAAHHH!"
(Police arriving.) "Hey! Stop! What are you doing?"
"Sorry, officer, he was bumming my last cigarette."
"Oh, hell. Are you all right? What was he, crazy?"
"I guess."
"Uuuuuuuugh." (Cadger dies.)
"Carry on, citizen. We'll throw this in a dumpster."

I hope my examples clear up how this all works. There's a few other mitigating circumstances, though, all thrown into clear relief today on my walk home from work. It also happens to depend on who is doing the cadging. It's pretty easy, though:

Homeless Man/Woman

Come on, they're homeless. What's a cigarette to you?

Scary Homeless Man/Woman

On the other hand, you're not a superhero. Or if you are, you're the world's weirdest superhero, because you smoke. Which is kind of cool. I'm going to pretend you are now, and I name you LUNG LAD! (Or Lass. Whatever.) You travel our fair city, flying around with a smoke clenched in your jaw, tirelessly fighting crime and nicotine fits, pausing only occasionally to bend over at the waist and wheeze violently, holding one hand up in that "I'll be okay in a second" way.

Homeless Guy Selling Real Change Newspaper

Give him a cigarette, but then feel kind of peevish about it, because you just bought a newspaper to boot, and that was supposed to fill your "I did my one bullshit miniscule bit for the homeless" slot for the day. Then feel really stupid about being such an asshole over a bloody cigarette, for chrissakes.

Horrid Little Fake Homeless Bastards With Irritating Haircuts

Being past 30, I already hate the young, so it's easy to give in to the temptation to tell them to go fuck themselves. This is what I usually do. (Well, in my mind, anyway. I really don't need my obit to contain the phrase "death by skateboard.") Walk on by and also ignore the pleas of "Beer money, beer money." Fuck you, junior. Sell the leather boots.

Later, imagine horrible scenario in which damaged youth was driven from an abusive home and feel absolutely terrible. The next day, feel less terrible when you see the same kid driving a car.

Finally, this is really outside the realm of smoking, but it falls into the whole civic duty thing: I'm talking about those glinty-eyed parasites who stalk around busy corners with clipboards and try and get you to sign their fucking petitions. "I signed this one," you say. "It doesn't matter," they reply, and shove the clipboard at you. "I hate this petition," you say. "It's okay, just sign," they insist. "I'm a Cantonese rebel freedom fighter in this country on a recruiting mission," you say. "Just a quick signature, please."

These people all need to be lit on fire. Sounds like a job for LUNG LAD!

Lung Lad?

Crap. Turns out he's on his last smoke.

Summary | Skot | 19 Aug, 2003 |

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

Lung Lad! Fists of iron, and a lung to match!

Comment number: 003498   Posted by: TheBrad on August 19, 2003 10:12 PM from IP: 64.218.91.147

The park next to my apartment building is filled with many Horrid Little Fake Homeless Bastards With Irritating Haircuts. They sleep in the park and leave their McDonald's garbage all over the place, along with the empty 40's of Colt 45 and large piles of vomit. And then they ask me if I can spare a quarter when I'm walking the dog. Sorry dude, I threw my last quarter in a fountain wishing that you fuckers would go back to suburbia, and stop ripping holes in your $75 jeans to try to make yourself look homeless.

Comment number: 003499   Posted by: Ryan Waddell on August 20, 2003 06:19 AM from IP: 206.47.252.100

I dated a homeless girl once. It was great because I could drop her off anywhere.

"Date's over. Get out. See you in the park on Sunday..."

Those were the days.

Comment number: 003500   Posted by: KOTWF on August 20, 2003 06:40 AM from IP: 65.194.128.73

Date's over. Get out.

*shudder* How does IP banning work again?

Comment number: 003501   Posted by: on August 20, 2003 11:03 AM from IP: 137.53.85.134

You forgot the easiest, most morally uplifting response: Sorry, dude, I don't smoke. This works best if true; can be a bit confusing (but hey! why not?) if you have a cigarette dangling from your lip.

Comment number: 003502   Posted by: Bill on August 20, 2003 11:59 AM from IP: 162.119.64.114

Maybe she just *told* you she was homeless so she didn't have to figure out a way to keep your jerk ass from coming up to her apartment "for some coffee"...

Comment number: 003503   Posted by: carana on August 20, 2003 02:30 PM from IP: 64.65.186.214

So I'm not just imagining it? Those kids with the good shoes, good teeth, good skin tone, expensive haircuts, and artfully ragged clothes, sitting on a flattened cardboard box on the sidewalk with a begging sign in front of them, aren't just street kids who got lucky at the Goodwill? I haven't known what to think of them, but for the last year or two they've been setting off my urban radar -- you know, that low-level spider-sense that tells you that something here doesn't fit. ... Dang. I knew there was something suburban about them. I just never thought a young, sane, physically healthy human being would sit around panhandling if there were anything else to do. ... "And what is your superpower, Horrid Little Fake Homeless Bastard With Irritating Haircut Lad?" ... "I have an unbelievably high threshhold of boredom." ... "Uh, right. So long, and thanks for trying."

Comment number: 003504   Posted by: Teresa Nielsen Hayden on August 21, 2003 05:46 PM from IP: 24.90.11.212

Panhandling is a way to meet people. So, for that matter, is cadging a fag.

Comment number: 003505   Posted by: Avedon on August 21, 2003 09:27 PM from IP: 194.222.67.2

I don't smoke anymore, but my least favorite cutl line for mooching a smoke was: "Take a nail out of your coffin?"

Boy, that got on my tit.

Comment number: 003506   Posted by: Beerzie Boy on August 29, 2003 12:27 PM from IP: 32.97.110.142

everytime you feel bad about being a smoker, just remember this: there's only one road to your lungs, ya mighta's well tar it! GO LUNG LAD!

Comment number: 003507   Posted by: Wheeze Kid on September 5, 2003 08:59 AM from IP: 146.231.128.4

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