May I Light Your Cigarette?

As I continue my search for myself following my separation and divorce, one of the odd things I found that I enjoy is lighting a woman’s cigarette. Now mind you, in my entire life I’ve never smoked, and I’m not particularly fond of a woman that chain smokes. I haven’t, for instance, made “must smoke” a required status on my internet dating profile.

However, I have found it is quite fun when a woman takes out a new cigarette to snap my lighter and bring it flame. I carry a lighter in my pocket at all times, despite having never smoked a single cigarette (since sneaking a puff from my uncle’s lit Taryton when I was 8 years old). And like learning “the motorcycle wave”, I had to spend several months this fall practicing the mechanics, the instinct, gaining the skill … while igniting my recipient’s hair only once or twice.

Recently I lit a woman’s cigarette in a bar, and we chatted. During later conversation I teased myself about my odd interest. “Oh no”, she said, “There are lots of guys that are intrigued by a woman smoking a cigarette.” Yes! I was validated!

It turns out she dates a lot of guys … a lot of guys … and says many times the guy will specifically ask “Do you smoke?” and “Are you staying in a smoking room?” She said that in the beginning she was afraid this might be a deal breaker, sheepishly admitting yes to both. She was then surprised, but now accepts as normal, that any guy asking her that is trolling to satisfy his romantic cigarette fantasy. Like me, she became intrigued enough to look into it. Of course, we had some pretty deep and VERY validating discussion on this subject.

It seems guys who prefer non-smoking girls in general will tolerate a quick date with a woman that smokes. Or one that doesn’t, either. It seems its not a big deal one way or the other and they never bother to ask. Demanding a smoke free evening is pretty rare for most men.

However, whenever any guy asks “Do you smoke?”, she can now assure me, he is either caught up in romantic memories of iconic Hollywood movies (or is looking for some edgy action). The majority of these guys, like me, neither smoke nor are involved with a partner that smokes. So they look elsewhere with their lighters.

They eventually wax romantic about seeing those famous romantic 1940’s film nior interactions. Bogey & Bacall in To Have and Have Not, Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, and of course Audrey Hepburn’s elegant extended holder that was nearly her co-star in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

hayworth_origI personally enjoy lighting a cigarette as part of the social interaction stage then, while listening to her words, I watch the orange orb dance about and glow hot then dark. I love to track her hand’s motion, like a symphony conductor’s, waving, holding, pointing, then dipping off the built up loose ashes. Her lips stretched and bouncy in motion while she speaks are suddenly on hold, pursed into a tight circle, to first draw then exhale the eerie grey cloud.

But other men, it seems, go much further … much much further. Enough to make this grown man blush.

But this story ended on a sad note as this young woman herself experienced none of the romance of her stable of gentleman callers. It was simply about his request, nothing more. It was no different to her than being asked to dress up as a fireman or honk like a dolphin at a key moment. It was, humbly, just business … and in business the customer is always king.

She told of one man who actually carried with him a nostalgic black cigarette extension holder, asking her to use it; her walking through the romantic intrigue of those film-nior classics. She then recalled watching these films growing up “On the morning TV Matinee Movie”. But she felt it necessary to capstone our barside chat with the notion that romantic cigarette smoking, in her experience, was really limited to “Guys your age”.

Ouch!

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