With tobacco and literature one could face out any situation, provided, of course, that the book was not written in an unknown tongue.
– Dorothy L. Sayers
That line is from Sayers’ novel Gaudy Night, of which I am about 2/3rds of the way through. It’s good – really good.
But this post is about smoking, which is certainly one of the more unusual pastimes us humans have come up with. It’s also one of the most pleasurable. Yours truly has a fondness for those little cigars called puritos. I also keep a pipe, although it has fallen into disuse lately; perhaps the summer will see it come out a little bit more.
Now, in our selectively puritanical age, smoking tobacco has become something mildly scandalous. I’m always bemused by reactions people give me when they find out that I light up on occasion. “But you look like such an angel”, one guy said, as if he had found out I was a womanizer or something. Similarly with scotch.
Part of this, I think, is that the art of these things is lost on us. The idea of someone enjoying the sensory experience of drinking a bit of scotch (which includes, yes, the buzz it puts in our heads) is somewhat more foreign to us than that of someone using it as a quick way to get drunk. Hence also why marijuana is increasingly accepted: you go from zero to baked in no time. Whatever tactile pleasures there might be in the act of smoking marijuana are subservient to the aim of temporarily losing contact with rationality, which is why I don’t find it to be as wholesome as pipes and pints are.
Granted: smoking is not good for you. All those surgeon general’s warnings aren’t for nothing. If you do it, do it in moderation. And stay away from those grubby cigarettes, too.