Some people like to face life head-on. Me, I’m all for escape. Thus, dateline: Las Vegas. They say what happens here stays there, and that’s a good thing. After a hard day of shopping (me), poker (CE) and dining (both of us start diets anew on Monday…) we decided to head to the pool with our books yesterday afternoon. The CE found us a shady spot and we settled in – for about ten seconds, because that’s about how long it took the two guys sitting upwind from us to light a pair of cigars.
I always forget that Vegas is the last protected haven for smokers. I’m glad they have a place to go other than those sad little outdoor cubicles 150 feet away from everything and everybody. I wonder if the dimensions of those tiny spaces ever remind them of coffins.
In Vegas, however, they can light up with impunity, and light up they did. The CE said these guys looked like “old Mafiosos” and that, coupled with the fact that they were well within their rights to smoke, kept us in our seats. For about another ten seconds, during which time I wondered about the whole business of smoking.
The CE and I are of that generation that grew up taking (forced) Sunday drives in the back seats of our parents’ cars with the windows rolled up and the grown-ups puffing away in the front seat. The air was thick with smoke. Our eyes burned, our noses got stuffy and the combination of the back seat and the putrid fog of smoke invariably led to car-sickness, but if we made a “peep” (“And I don’t want to hear a peep!” was a common admonition back then) we were quickly reprimanded. Smoking was a right back then. Funny how things can change, isn’t it?
So I did a little research, but other than discovering that our Governator smokes a cigar each day to “relieve stress”, that our latest Nobel Laureate is or was a closet smoker and that Mr. Freud himself died of mouth cancer as a result of his tobacco addiction, there are apparently no definitive studies on why people smoke. The oral and anal theories persist but remain scientifically unproven.
One quasi-scientific finding I discovered was a 1962 article in The Atlantic Monthly (www.theatlantic.com): “Smokers are consistently larger than the nonsmokers. They are taller, heavier, broader in the shoulders and hips, bigger in the size of the chest, leg, and hand…pure cigarette smokers are on the average more than four pounds heavier than the nonsmokers, the pure pipe smokers more than six pounds heavier, with the pure cigar smokers averaging an amazing ten pounds more in body weight than the abstainers.”
These guys by the pool definitely outweighed us, even after the effects of three days of gluttony – I mean, fine dining. Maybe I should have told them, but we chose, instead, to leave. After all, it was time to go eat. Again. Great to be here, but as they say, it’s all smoke and mirrors, and we won’t mind leaving the smoke behind.