4. Cigarette Packs
I’ve waited to create this post for two reasons. I feel like it’s incredibly important to the rectangular cause, but it is also a subject extremely close to my tar-filled heart. Oh, cigarettes. They say so much yet slowly chip away at your larynx. Maybe that’s why the design on a cigarette pack has to be distinctive, eloquent and recognizable.
One of my very favorite books, Still Life with Woodpecker, “is sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes.” Combining two of my favorite things – redheads and smoking – this book is a clever tromp through outlaws, princesses and how to make love stay. I say, take three cigarettes, and pop one in your mouth, hand one to your lover, and give the last to love. It’ll stay, because smoking tastes good, feels great, and is pleasantly addictive.
When I first started smoking, I went with the team cigarette of the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue – Yellow American Spirits. A slow burning, fully natural cigarette that is very much a love-it-or-hate-it phenomenon. The distinctive yellow box means that you can spot kindred (American) spirits pretty easily. The American Spirit Light is, for sure, a bougie cigarette. There can be no question there. But it’s bougie and easily accessible, which is nice.
I smoked American Spirits for a few months, to the chagrin of Big Boy David and anyone interested in bumming a cigarette. And then – O! Joyous day! – I discovered Nat Sherman New York Cut Lights. These are about as classy as cigarettes get. White, clean, natural. Beautiful. Delicious. A friend of mine has called them, simply, “the perfect cigarette.” And they are delicious – smooth, clean, tasty. But they lack a kick, and are harder to find. Also, despite the fact that they consider themselves the cheaper luxury cigarette, they can get pricey.
So I switched, yet again, to the delicious, delicately spicy Kamel Red Lights. Not only do they have a seriously sweet looking pack, they are cheap (cheaper than regular Camels) and very hard to get sick of. Easy to switch back and forth from, inexpensive, flexible, strong – the Kamel Red Light just might be the perfect cigarette (I can’t touch an American Spirit anymore without vomiting).
And finally, I move into my last pack. The ever-reliable Marlboro Light. Despite the fact that they sometimes cost up to $9 at rest stops, they are generally accepted as the Wonderbread of cigarettes. Perfect to chain smoke, barely any taste – if you don’t feel like smoking but want the nicotine buzz, the Marlboro Light is the cigarette for you. Also, you don’t look like a bougie asshole smoking them, since they are available at any drugstore. This is the working-man’s cigarette.
“Unless you can follow a good weep with a cigarette, there’s really no use in doing it.”
I couldn’t agree more, David Sedaris. And since I am an expert at the good weep, I’ll smoke my lungs black and enjoy the fuck out of it.
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