Thingish Things

Lucky Strikers

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - May• 24•11

Cigarettes at the Duane Reade I stopped at tonight in Grand Central Station are on sale. They are $108.24 per carton. Normally they cost $110.12. Get ’em while they last.

I am 47-years-old, and the first carton of cigarettes I ever bought cost $5.  I could have bought 21 cartons then for the price of a single carton today, with money left over for a 12-pack of mints. Without the punitive city, state, and federal taxes — and punitive is what they are — a carton of cigarettes would probably cost around $18-20 today.

I quit smoking several years ago, and I don’t miss the things at all. But I do miss the people I used to huddle with in the cold. Some of them were absolute strangers before becoming fast friends. Such is the bond among pariahs. We weathered a lot of winds together, we hearty few, striking matches inside cupped palms outside fine and less than fine establishments — with extraordinary flair I might add. I have met no finer people since.

I thought of my old smoking comrades twice today. Tonight at Duane Reade, and earlier in the day while reading coverage of  New York City’s just-implemented outdoor smoking ban. (I still can’t get over that — an outdoor smoking ban.)

Most of the coverage focused on rebellious smokers lighting up in parks and sidewalks, feet from unperturbed police officers pointedly turning the other way, and I could not help but feel a tinge of pride for the disobedient spirit of everyone involved. Truth be told, I was a little jealous not to be there with them, not for the nicotine, but for the fight.

I hope my old friends all eventually quit, because cigarettes are killing them. But so is life, and as long as I can draw breath, I’ll support their right to do what they want with theirs.


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