Remember when you could smoke, like, everywhere in America? David Sedaris does in this week's New Yorker: "When I was in fourth grade, my class took a field trip to the American Tobacco plant in nearby Durham, North Carolina. There we witnessed the making of cigarettes and were given free packs to take home to our parents." Sedaris goes on to helpfully explain which kind of cigarette goes with what kind of person: "Kools and Newports were for black people and lower-class whites..."
Camels were for procrastinators, those who wrote bad poetry, and those who put off writing bad poetry. Merits were for sex addicts, Salems for alcoholics, and Mores for people who considered themselves to be outrageous but really weren't. One should never lend money to a Marlboro-menthol smoker, though you could usually count on a regular-Marlboro person to pay you back. The eventual subclasses of milds, lights, and ultra-lights not only threw a wrench in the works but made it nearly impossible for anyone to keep your brand straight. All that, however, came later, along with warning labels and American Spirits.
My Dad smoked Kools out in the driveway before quitting; so did Sedaris: "This, to some, is like reading the confessions of a wine enthusiast and discovering midway through that his drink of choice is Lancers, but so be it."
This brings to mind the excellent cult teen film "Whatever," in which Liza Weil's character explains why she smokes menthols: "I like them. They're cool and refreshing." A clip of that coming-of-age ritual, smoking with your parents: