I had another good darksider sighting last night when I saw a chainsmoking bar tender girl, who I happened to remember as the best friend of the younger sister of an ex-girlfriend of mine from like seven years ago (I know, right). Anyways, for some inexplicable reason at first I hardly recognized this cute bartender girl I saw smoking one cigarette after the other from the end of the bar, before it clicked in my mind, Chelsea. I was mesmerized to see her chain smoker her way through at least eleven or twelve cigarettes (Marlboro lights) almost back to back during the two hours I was hanging out at the bar. I was impressed.
Mind you, she was actually smoking while she was tending the bar, which is something Ive seen a few times before but not all that often. Apparently it was a fairly slow night so she had alot of time to visit, and we had much catching up to do as I hadn’t seen her in years, and although I remember when she started smoking quite well, I had never seen her smoke like this before. Appearance wise now, she's still kinda short like maybe 5ft'2, and still very pale and still very skinny with medium length brownish-almost auburn hair she had pulled back in a ponytail. Id be suprised if she weighted over 100 lbs soaking wet. Clothing wise she was wearing a green extra-small t-shirt that said "getting lucky in kentucky" on it and was rather tight fittingand showed off just how flat she really is, along with a black shortish-to-medium length skirt that wasnt quite a tennis skirt but showed off her bare white boney legs and was wearing three inch tall glossy black patent leather peep-toe high heels without any pantyhose; very frisky bartenderish but otherwise she looked surprisingly the same as when I first met her when she was around fifteen years old about seven years ago. She kept one pack of Marlboro lights in a small pouch in the front of her bartender apron, but apparently also had a second pack of cigarettes in her small clutch purse she had under the bar.
Perhaps mostly notable about her incessant smoking, besides her almost exageratted inhales, was her ridiculously hacking wracking cough that literally shook all 100 lbs of her scrawney frame. She claims to have pneumonia, but I kinda teased her about that saying it sounded more like chainsmokers cough, and she just blushed a bit and protested that it wasnt smokers cough, as she in fact coughed more and tried to tell me that it most certainly was pneumonia because she gets pneumonia this time ever year and had since she started smoking. I pretended to not know how long that was, before she reminded me that it had been seven years.
Before I go any further in this true to life smoker sighting, I wanted to clairify that I don't want to make out like Im a player, cause Im not. She made it abundantly clear that she was dating the bouncer, a large, seedy looking thick necked fellow covered in tattooes and sporting a shaved head who occasionally shot me menacing grins; and to which Id just try to smile, and give a waving hand gesture that let him know gesture I was not a threat. In any event, I had a history of having known this girl from when she was a young teenager and had just started smoking. She smiled and laughed a lot as we recalled old stories and old times from the years and years ago when I had last seen her, and humorously enough she was still quite a rapid talker who seemed to chain smoke faster and harder the more she was getting into telling me something. Wheezing just a bit (from her pneumonia?) she laughed and recalled a story from when she claims I allegedly got her hooked on cigarettes. I probably blushed at the prospect of getting to take credit for that, but she and I recalled the story together while I let myself breathe in the second hand smoke from her constant stream of cigarettes while we chatted.
The background, for what its worth is that she was still in high school when I first met Chelsea was like seven years ago, and was a very prim and proper fifteen year old churchgoing type girl who was always hanging out at my exgirlfriends house cause she was best friends with her little sister sara. At the time I was in my mid twenties, like twenty-six, and was going through my "Im just a social smoker" phase, so I'd usually step outside whenever I'd smoke a cigarette since my then-girlfriends mom was a vehement non-smoker and in fact, no kidding, was a respatory therapist nurse. (Besides the natural enemnity between smokers and respatory therapists, Im sure the fact that a skeezy twenty-six year old grad student type like me was sleeping with her still-senior in high school eldest daughter/my then-girlfriend, didnt exactly make me Mr. popular either). However, my solution to overcoming my ex-girlfriends opposition to my hanging around was of course to pretend to hit on her too, since, afterall, she was only like nine years older than me anyways; which was just a shade farther away than the eight year gap between me and her fairest, eldest daughter, who had just turned eighteen in her senior year of high school when we started dating after I met her at a mexican restruant she waited tables at. All of that background just kinda goes to color the semi-shadyness semi-flirtatiousness of the original environment I first met this cadre of girls and women in; including Miss-Soon-To-Be-Chainsmoking-Bartender-Girl.
Back then, I felt like I was visiting at a regular cathouse: with an pretty foxy looking eighteen year old girlfriend (who was way outta my leauge even then); her thirty-three year old single mother always on the manhunt who I had to flirt with on occasion to get implied permission to fool around with her daughter; her obnoxious horny little sister of fifteen who was always trying to hit on me which creeped me out; and her little-sisters perpetual partner in crime who was litterally always hanging around their rent house, Miss-Chelsea the churchgoing girl. Now, I wouldnt go so far as to say that Miss-Chelsea did in fact have a huge crush on me back in the day when I wasnt so bad looking - you know - back before I was as fat as I am now or as bald as I am now -- but for all intents and purposes she probably did and I could seemingly do no wrong. So, yes, I was a swine and would from time to time perhaps flirt a bit with young miss Chelsea, although sadly I never had the nerve to physically consumate that crush she had on me.
So instead - like the budding darksider that I was even then, seven years ago - I decided to see if I could persuade little miss-Chelsea to start smoking. Now, I know that makes me a bad man for wanting to convince a fifteen year old girl that she wanted to smoke - but in all fairness, I did have to sit outside on the step to my exgirlfriends house all the time to smoke - and perhaps that looked cooler than I had imagined. She would from time to time stop to visit with me as I took a cigarette break, and from time to time I would offer her a cigarette like it was no big deal, which she would time after time refuse and say that she didnt smoke. Id usually just say something like, "well, Im sure you will when you get older" or something to that effect. She'd deny it, tell me how she was devout to Jesus and how she didnt smoke or drink. Id usually point out that a) Jesus did drink, just wine though, and b) the bible doesnt say anything about smoking, and in fact lots of good christians smoked. I had some examples back then but cant remember now. Needless to say, Id continue to say off handed remarks about how "well, Im sure once you start dating boys you'll probably start smoking" or "once you start actually going to parties you'll start smoking" or "well, you're probably not quite old enough to be ready for smoking yet, but maybe next year when your friends start smoking you'll finally get around to it" before eventually getting to "you know, given that your friends will almost all start smoking eventually, you might as well beat them to the punch and learn how to do it right now, so you'll be ahead of the game" - of course all of these were more than a little tounge-in-cheek back then, although I think the irony was perhaps lost on her back then.
In any event, it wasnt little-miss Chelsea who I first "cracked" with respect to convincing to share a cigarette, it was in fact her best friend, and my then-girlfriends younger sister sara who was my first victim. She'd overheard me "pretending" to offer cigarettes to Chelsea before, and she, having a hopeless crush on me, kept trying to take me up on the offer. Of course, although miss sara wasnt bad looking for a fifteen-year old, she still had the "eww" factor of being just a bit too young and immature for my tastes plus the added no-no of being my then-girlfriends little sister, so naturally I would refuse to give her cigarettes anytime shed ask for them. (which was harder to do than Id thought). Then, as luck would have it, miss-sara decided to take her fate (and her lungs) into her own hands and steal my pack of cigarettes from my pants one night while I was napping after having what in retrospect can only be referred to as horrifyingly unprotected sex with her older sister. Not sure how many times little sara had "borrowed" my cigarettes before I caught her, but For some reason or another I woke up on a lazy sunday afternoon, put my pants on and wandered outside to find lil' miss-sara outside smoking my cigarettes with her friend Chelsea, who was sheepishly hiding her cigarette behind her back.
Of course, in an effort to not utterly infuriate my then-girlfriends mother, I told miss-sara that she had to give back my cigarettes and that she was not to steal my cigarettes from me again, because I didnt want her mother mad at me. I explicitly told her that I didnt care if she smoked on her own time, but that she needed to not be stealing my cigarettes or claiming that I was giving her cigarettes, because her crazy mother would litterally attempt to kill me if she found out. She threw the cigarettes on the groud in a pout and stomped away acting more like a five year old than a fifteen year old.
Meanwhile, Miss-Chelsea was still standing there like a deer in the headlights unsure what to do, and still trying to drop her cigarette behind her leg like I might not notice. She looked as guilty as could be, but just before she was about to say something, I cut her off, and offered her a cigarette with a smile. She looked confused. I told her that since she wasnt my then-girlfriends little sister, that she could have a cigarette if she wanted, as long as she didnt tell their mother that I had given it to her. She smiled back, and I reminded her that I had told her that she would start smoking once her friends did, and she laughed just a bit as I held out a cigarette from the pack to her lips and lit it for her.
I still remember to this day how pristine she looked then, and how utterly evil I felt for doing it; but I reminded myself this girl had already technically been smoking on her own before I had given her that particular cigarette.
Also, just as clearly as I heard it last night, I remember her coughing a little after taking a deep heavy drag off the cigarette. At the time I thought it was because it was a Marlboro Red and might be too harsh for her, to I told her to take it easier and that if she wanted I might be able to pick up a pack of Marlboro lights for her, as those might be more up her alley. She agreed but said shed want to go ahead and finish that cigarette first. Wow. I didnt know what to say, other than that I was stunned. Not only was she going to take me up on that offer, unbelievable I thought, but she actually assumed she needed to finish her current cigarette first and that I would just take her to the store right away to buy them. Of course, I always hate to let a girl down, especially one looking conspiciously cute and sporting an oversized Summer Church Youth Group Neon colored T-Shirt, cutoff almost-daisey-dukes length jean shorts and spotless white Keds without socks, as she wheezed and inhaled trying to hurriedly finish the Marlboro. Yikes I thought to myself, I better be careful with this one.
But sure enough, she sat there in my car, her legs firmly crossed keeping a safe, proper distance as we rode to the gas station and we tried to make awkward small talk about whether she had a boyfriend or not and so forth, before we got to the store. Not being quite sure, she just followed me along inside and kinda wandered around to looking for a soda while I waited in line. She joined me in line, soda in hand, and was twisting and swaying back and forth with that type of hyperactive excitement that only a teenage girl could have, pretending to poke or pinch me and giggle. I was as confused by girls then as I was when I was a teenager myself. But I got upto the counter, asked for two packs of Marlboro Reds for me, then looked to Chelsea and prompted her "and ...one pack of Marlboro Lights?" to which she looked wide eyed for a minute, then snapped, "Oh, two packs for me please!" with a cute smile that only confused the poor old man at the convenience station who asked "now wait, was that one and two packs together? for a total of three packs? or just the two?" I started to say just the two, when Chelsea blurted out "oh three, yes, three packs all together of the Marlboro Lights please" and the old man nodded his head. Chelsea was practically brimming with excitement as I recall, and honestly I had never seen nothing like it before. The old cashier looked to Chelsea, who looked all of fifteen going on maybe thirteen and scrawney, and asked "you eighteen right?" to which she said unconvincingly "um...yes? I just, um, like, forgot my id and stuff, sorry" which only made the old man say, "well I know hes over twenty-one cause he buys beer and cigarettes here all the time and has for a couple of years, and although you do look pretty young to me I figured you must be eighteen if you're dating this fella here." - to which she and I both just blushed and grinned at each other while I paid the bill.
On the way back out to my car she bounced around with teenage-girly hyperactive excitement, “omg, thankyouthankyouthankyou” as she clutched her prized three packs of Marlboro lights and stood up on her tip toes in her keds to give me a kiss on the cheek. First I joked with her that she better cherish those cigarettes because she may never get her hands on them anymore, which gave her a terrified look, before I smiled and patted her on the thigh and said that I would of course buy her cigarettes anytime she asked, but that really, she probably could just go buy them from this old man at the convenience store from now on, cause he’d probably sell to her. She looked thrilled at the idea that I had just helped her establish a supplier for her cigarettes and the darksider inside of me even then just rejoiced. Then, I joked with her that she better finish all three of those packs and not waste them, and very serious faced she said she promised she would because she had been practicing. I asked for a minute if she was kidding, and she said no, that she really had been practicing trying to smoke her cigarette right so she didn’t embarrass herself, and I just laughed. Although I can actually clearly remember having such thoughts when I was fifteen myself, I don’t think I had ever actually practiced. She didn’t get the joke and didn’t know why it was funny that she wanted to practice her smoking so she did it right. She was so obsessive compulsive about how she did things, that it didn’t even occur to her that it might be strange for her to like to practice smoking.
As greedily lit up her cigarette in the passenger seat of my car some seven years ago, I realized that I had in fact been seeing her all wrong. And that in fact, although I had been mistaking as her being prim and proper and church going – and she sorta came off that way – that in fact, it was just that she was raised that way so she didn’t know any different – but that she took to it with a steadfastness and obsessiveness that were in fact the personality traits of someone who was more neurotic and noticeably more obsessive-compulsive than normal people. The more I thought about it, and recalled her behavior then and again in the bar when we were rehashing the old story of how I “made” her start smoking – while I watched her neurotically chain-smoke one cigarette after the other – the more I realized that the darksider in me must have somehow just intuitively sensed that she was in fact exactly the type of personality in a woman who takes to smoking like a duck to water. Its like she was born to be addicted to cigarettes inevitably no matter what she did. I just happened to be the lucky guy in the right place at the right time I guess.
As our conversation drifted back from the old stories, and I further observed her behavior and manic activities and lighting of one cigarette off the butt of another, I realized how right I was and I couldn’t help but remark on it. So I just asked her “Chelsea, how much do you think you smoke now, like on average?” and she said “oh I don’t know, like maybe two and a half packs a day or so, give or take.” Clearly she meant three. Three packs a day, I just knew it, and grinned.
“You mean, three packs a day don’t you?” I said behind an evil smile. “well… yeah, that’s probably right…” she paused then confessed “But yeah… on like weekends and stuff… I might smoke four ever now and then, which I know is crazy and stuff.” Almost as if on cue, she took a heavy drag and let out a wheezing ratteling cough. “Dam Pneumonia!” she exclaimed with a cigarette dangeling from her smile.
Just about the time it started to dawn on me that I might be starting just a little too longingly at this wonderful chainsmoking vixen of a bartender girl, her meatheaded surley bouncer boyfriend came around and said with a thick tounge “bars-closing-soon-buddy-might-want-to-closeout.” He looked me dead in the eye, with all 85 of his IQ points, like he was waiting for me to blink. Clearly this was a guy who knew how to bash guys like me over the head and throw me out of the bar, so I wasn’t about to make a scene, so I gave him the “Im leaving” nod and stood up to pay the tab as Chelsea brought the bill for me and came around the bar to put her slender arm around the hulking inked up bouncer dude that looked like he probably played offensive lineman all six or seven years he was probably in high school. Chelsea took another long drag off her cigarette, followed by another wheezing cough, as she introduced me as the “really nice exboyfriend of her old-bestfriends older sister from back when she was in high school” and almost proudly announced that I had actually bought her her first pack of cigarettes back when she was fifteen. I winced as she said it. The bouncers menacing glare cast my way as he grumbled through the teeth he had left in his mouth “oh, thanks @sshole, so now youre the reason she cant fcking breathe anymore, nice.” In my minds eye I could just about see his meaty paw swinging for my skull as I backed up and tried to look as non-threatening as I could and said “no no no, not like that, not like that” and I perhaps feared ever so slightly my impending doom.
Chelsea, realizing she had just accidentally sicked her giant mansized pitbull of a boyfriend on me, intervened “no that’s not what I said Doug, he’s just an old friend.” She said as she slowly repeated “An old friend” like she was talking to a bad dog. He heeded to her words like a whipped puppy and backed off. After watching her take a satisfying long looking drag that again finished with a wet wracking cough before she grinned in embarssement and waived goodbye with a cigarette in her hand, I nodded my head in approval and turned towards the door and thought “What a lucky B@stard!”