Friday, March 16, 2007

Books: Why I lurve Florence King.

Miss King on smoking:
It's this: I think suicide qua suicide is weak and shameful, but maybe, if I just keep smoking, I can hasten my exit from this Walpurgisnacht called America and escape the mephitic cultural collapse that Nice-Nelly conservatism is powerless to stop.

This is probably wishful thinking in view of my family's medical history, but it points up another benefit of cigarettes we no longer hear about: consolation. Even the word is gone from the language now, but it was what came through in World War II newsreels showing weary soldiers and refugees lighting up. In their most despairing moments a cigarette was all they had, and increasingly I feel the same way.

There goes my chance at Keynote 2000, even if I work on my perkiness and arrange to rent a baby.
That, and the fact that anybody who can use "Walpurgisnacht" and "mephitic" in a sentence, spelled correctly, is automatically okay in my book...

21 comments:

Desertrat said...

I've wondered if her NR columns would be put into book form...

Florence King endeared herself to me with a comment stemming from some recitation of her traditional southern upbringing: "No matter what sex I went to bed with, I never smoked a cigarette in public."

"Confessions of a failed southern lady", IIRC.

Art

Kilgor said...

I've watched my father go from a vibrant 50 year old to looking and acting like he's 80 in a matter of 3 months. I watched him cry yesterday when he finally got to see his first grandchild who is 4 weeks old. He won't see his grandson or future grandchildren grow up. He won't be able to teach them the things he wants to.

I predict that you will feel different from this snarky attitude when/if the smoking catches up to you.

I hope it never does.

Tam said...

I'm sorry for your impending loss, kilgor, but let's not get all projection-y, okay?

I won't see my grandchildren grow up because I neither have nor want children, which are sort of a prerequisite for the former, nicht wahr?

Your life ain't mine.

Gewehr98 said...

That's interesting. If one simply praises the joy of smoking at the same time they utter kitschy German adjectives, then one gets grouped into the "cool" category, nicht wahr?

Hochdeutsch oder Plattdeutsch, I can do either, no biggy. Do I get a secret decoder ring, too?

I've watched too many family members die from cancer sticks - a perfect incentive for me not to start. Each of my stepsons smokes a pack a day. Mrs. G-98 and I listen to them start their day by hacking up bits of lung - that's pretty darned glamorous.

Parents shouldn't have to bury their children.

Timmeeee said...

When I was 14 I started smoking, because I wanted the other kids in high school to think I was cool. I was soon up to 2 packs a day. When I turned 20, I said to myself, "I'm an adult now, I don't care what teenagers think of me", and I quit.

Nobody can defend smoking and appear to be rational.

Tam said...

Heck, the merest mention of it seems to trigger irrationality...

Gregg said...

Tam,
That irrationality and the immediate attacks on anyone who does not agree is one of the major difficulties we face with maintaining a free society.

Personally, I think that habitual smoking is a filthy and disgusting habit. I agree that it can cause many health problems.

However, I do NOT think it should be regulated by a government agency, in THIS country. If you want Big Brother to tell you what is good for you, then please move back to Europe, or Africa, Asia, etc...

The U.S. is more of a grown up place where we each decide what is best for ourselves.


Oddly enough the anti-smoking zealots sound a lot like the anti-gun zealots.

pdb said...

Gawd. Lighten up you friggin' narcs.

What is it about cigs that brings out the nanny in otherwise live 'n let live types? I don't recall anyone blowing Tam static when she talks about how she likes alkyhol, red meat or riding motorcycles, yet each of those also has the potential for shortening her lifespan.

None of us gets out of here alive. If you've got a habit that makes your limited time on this dirtball more tolerable, then more f'n power to you. If not, stop hassling those of us that do!

(disclosure: While I don't do cigs, I will combust a cigar on occasion to enhance the getting drunk experience).

Marko said...

You know what Hemingway would say about that?

"Here, hold my bourbon and my Cuban while I shoot this fuckin' rhino."

Don't smoke, never have, never will...but I'll be good and goddamned if I depart from my principles and become my neighbor's whiny nanny just because I don't like the habit.

I've roomed with Tam for a few years, and the smoking was never an issue. She respected my turf by smoking out on the porch, and in return I never bitched about sitting in the smoking section whenever we went out for a nosh. People can accommodate each other's vices without getting on each other's nuts with "smoking/drinking/porn is bad, hmmmkay?"

Kristopher said...

I don't smoke ... but I once earned a bunch of really cool Winston t-shirts from a street marketing give-away.

The guy running the kiosk asked me why I wanted one.

I told him I wanted one to annoy anti-smoking nazis with, and would do so immediately. He handed me a shirt and a sample pack ... I wore the shirt, sat down at a posh restaurant nearby, and put the smokes, unopened, on the table next to me.

The little nazis eating at that restaurant actually started twitching ... and one ran to the manager, and started shrieking at him that I smelled like cigarettes.

They kicked me out with much loud insanity on their part ... the man from the tobacco company gave me enough t-shirts for a year ....

aepilot_jim said...

I'm instulted. As soon as I look up Walpurgisnacht and mephitic and find out what they mean, I'll be really upset....

Really people, lighten up!

Jonathan said...

don;t drink, don't smoke, what do you do?

(thanks, Adam Ant).

I agree. You wanna smoke? I don't care. What you do with your freedom is your business. Despite Republicans and democrats best efforts, we still have some rights left.

I don't like smoking, but I won't preach to anyone against it and I won't demand that there "oughta be a law".


on a side note, preachy whiners do not advance their cause one step.

brbiswrite said...

Florence King's use of the word consolation is the telling thought. To those of you who have never smoked; good for you, but don't judge me; I don't judge you.

Many of us who have or still smoke have experienced that moment of consolation with a cigarette, where there was no other consoling presense. That smoke was my friend; it comforted me like like a mother or a lover or a friend. I can look back and see that I was dependent on that smoke, but it still helped relieve grief and sorrow.

I gave up smokes over a year ago. Like some friends, I felt it was turning on me, and I let it go. I still have fond memories of that constant companion.

BRB

the pistolero said...

Personally, I'll never smoke -- that's money that for me would go better towards beer & ammo -- but if it's what you like, more power to you. I've lost a loved one to cigarettes, and it cut me to the bone, but I would never call for them to be banned or regulated nor judge those who partake of them.
And ditto on the cigar with the alcohol. It definitely enhances the experience.

What is it about cigs that brings out the nanny in otherwise live 'n let live types?

That's what I'd like to know...

Dr. StrangeGun said...

"Nobody can defend smoking and appear to be rational. "

Sure I can. It's none of your business, as long as you aren't locked in intimate space with the smoker.

I smoke cigars, probably less than eighty a year. I have this deep-seated urge to smoke a pipe. Cigarettes never pleased me much... flavorless bundles of harsh smoke, to me. But, If someone wants to smoke them, hey, that's their decision.

Freedom doesn't mean just freedom to do what is "socially acceptable". I won't even go into the slippery slope argument, I'll just ask you to go find a plate of fois gras in Chicago or something cooked in Crisco in NYC...

Dr. StrangeGun said...

By the way, for the doomsayers, my family is full of outliers on your statistical graph. The only "evil" that befouls my line is a smattering of very late dementia and every so often a stroke from thrombosis.

All of them smoked. Some of them like chimneys, one of them (he's still kickin') smokes cigars like cigarettes. I think he's 85, 86... distant family. Our oldest I believe is 105 years old and she smoked right up until she forgot what they were about 20 years ago.

Yes, my grandfather died of cancer, horribly. He smoked like a chimney too and succumbed to throat and bone cancer, which came first is anyone's guess. He died with a plastic jaw. Is it smoking's fault? On the surface it looks like it but *below* the surface... well, he ran the intrumentation computers on several nuclear tests and puttered around the Trinity site for a while. Not to mention, his daughter born *after* that assignment had the first instance of Hodgkin's Lymphoma *ever* seen in our family. In fact, he's the first cancer death.

So ask me again, did my grandfather die from smoking? He died from a smoking hole in the ground, sure... cancer still requires a genetic predisposition. Sure smoking's not healthy, but it's not this accursed automatic death sentence either.

T.Stahl said...

A man goes to his doctor to ask him, "I want to live long, what can I do?"
"Well, do you smoke?"
"No."
"Do you drink?"
"No."
"Are you interested in women?"
"No."
"Then why do you want to live long?" ;-)
- - - - -
My father died just before his 52nd birthday - cancer.
His father died aged 88 - of old age.
Guess who smoked more in his life? My grandpa.

You wanna smoke? Go ahead.
You don't wanna use your seatbelt? Your problem, not mine.

My preferred drugs are chocolate, Guinness and Scotch. And I'd yell Molon Labe at anyone who'd try to take that away from me.

T.Stahl said...

Oh, and just today I was told by an LTC that I'm trigger happy.

Anonymous said...

"Sure I can. It's none of your business, as long as you aren't locked in intimate space with the smoker. "

EXACTLY. You want to smoke? Have fun. Just please do not do so around me, nor expect me to hang around while you do.

My biggest issue with cigaretts is that they SMELL BAD, as does someone who has just had one.

Sorry, but that lingering cigarette smell just turns my stomach. Cigars or pipes are different, for some reason.

Ross

staghounds said...

Wait a minute, cigarettes are bad for your health? I had no idea, this must be a big secret. Thank God for the internet.

Someone alert the media, we need to let people know!

jennsdad said...

Thank you Tam, for that quote.
I have been looking for the entire column for years!
Can you tell me what issue that was in?
I bought every book published by Ms King and came to the conclusion that they censored that column into non-existence.
I will be forever grateful to any reader who can provide the issue that column appeared in.