Thank You for Not Smoking

I’ve never smoked anything. A cigarette has never even touched my lips. Once I did stick a whole unopened package of cigarettes in my mouth, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count. I don’t mind that other people smoke, I even occasionally like the smell of cigarette smoke in that nostalgic this-reminds-me-of-eleventh-grade-when-Aimee-and-I-stood-in-line-for-three-hours-for-the-haunted-house-while-she-chain-smoked kind of way. I don’t have a problem with other people smoking any more than I have a problem with someone eating McDonalds for the rest of their life. I think it’s a less-than-wise decision, but so was Vanilla Ice, and we all still get excited when “Ice Ice Baby” comes on while we’re on the dance floor. Sometimes people do things that are not good for them in the long run, but the short-term benefits – say, relaxation – make it worth it. Not for me, but for other people. What I don’t understand is if I’m respecting your choice to smoke, why can’t you respect mine not to [or my desire not to spend time with you while you have a cigarette]?

I get made fun of a lot for not smoking to the point where I often feel like the only person in the world who doesn’t. Now that I’m long out of high school, I just don’t understand this. I don’t say, “no” to cigarette offers because my mom would kill me if she found out (she would), or because I like to be pious and lord my moral superiority over other people’s heads (though I do…just kidding). I don’t smoke because it doesn’t fit my lifestyle and philosophy. I like the whole body-as-temple concept; the idea that one’s body is pure and complete unto itself; its abilities and potential render it a divine thing blah blah blah (you get the point). Pseudo-spiritual, crunchy thought, perhaps, but that’s how I roll.

In going with the crunchy theme, I shall compare my choice to not smoke to Bikram Yoga. Background check: In this style of Yoga, the room is made really hot so that one’s muscles are already warmed up and stretching isn’t required. It’s actually very controversial in yoga circles because one isn’t working up to the pose in a natural state. I wouldn’t do Bikram yoga for the same reason I wouldn’t smoke: I want to get there on my own. I want to achieve that position and whatever mental state smoking provides as a result of my own hard work.

Doesn’t this make me a rebel in a land where everyone smokes? My experience has led me to determine that smoking holds a unique place in the social spectrum. It exists in paradox. Smoking is considered rebellious because it has been deemed dangerous by science, but a large part of our generation still smokes. So according to the cycle of coolness, I am the hipster; I am the one challenging boundaries. Or, not so much…