When I was in university — even as recently as law school — I had friends who lauded the pleasures of smoking. They would go in groups to backs of buildings, cigarettes in tow and I would say, “I kind of wish I was a smoker,” and they would say (and did), “It’s f–king great.” One of my high school counselors, who I overheard once talking to colleagues, said of her addiction, “I like the whole ritual of it. I love inhaling the smoke, I love the smell, I love the feel of it in my hand…” The past couple of years, however, there have been fewer and fewer people who will say it’s wonderful. The campaigns are working, I suppose, or the taxes are now too high.
I have always wanted to smoke. I crave cigarettes, often, when I am conscious and especially when I’m asleep. I have (or had, it’s been awhile) smoking dreams wherein I smoke and smoke and smoke and wake up feeling amazing — something I wrote about in a sideways way on my blog of other writing.
It’s a bit of a mystery to me because I have never inhaled a cigarette, ever, at least not in this life. No one in my immediate family smokes. I have always, always wanted to smoke but when it comes right down to it — I won’t. Not long after discussing my cravings with someone several months ago I came across an abandoned pack of cigarettes on a sidewalk. It’s like the universe said, “You want to smoke? Smoke.” And the very thought made me physically ill — my stomach queasy, my head pounding. Free, fresh cigarettes right there for me to smoke — and I passed. Apparently the anticipated reality wasn’t as good as the fantasy. Or I just wasn’t stressed enough in that moment. Or I wouldn’t stoop to picking up a pack of cigs from the sidewalk.
What does this have to do with David Bowie? Well today I came across the best Instagram ever. Called “David Bowie Smoking,” it purports to be a research experiment to see if David Bowie is the most-photographed smoking celebrity. One pic per day of Bowie smoking. I was a little late to find this one, it seems, since DBS has 14,490 followers. And man, those are some crave-inducing photos.
Bowie cut the habit, apparently, (apparently — isn’t there another word that’s a synonym for apparently? I need a frickin’ dictionary) because after his daughter was born he couldn’t smoke in the house and it was too cold to smoke on an NYC balcony. That’s what I remember reading anyway. You have to assume that, with all those volumes of photographs it was a pretty long-standing addiction and maybe he’s got a secret pack stashed somewhere (I don’t know, isn’t that what ex-smokers do?).
Here is my favourite Bowie photo in this vein, as it combines the three things that bring down my stress: prayer, Bowie and (dreams of) smoking.
(I am not alone in this odd fixation by the way. Others inexplicably crave cigarettes. I know. I Googled it.)