I threw a book of matches into a fire when I went camping once. A few of my friends stood by and watched, and chuckled, at the insanely anti-climatic event. I tossed the little book of matches onto the flaming log cabin/tepee combo … I had little use for them; what with my lack of tobacco on the trip. It had been three weeks and my nicotine stained fingertips had ceased emitting that distinct pungent odour, immediately evoking generations of sticky bar floors, insomnia fueled all-night writing binges and emphatic conversations with hand gestures.
It had been easier then I thought to let go of my hand-rolled accessories of affected cool. I had never been that committed to the whole smoking thing, I had made a concerted effort to get addicted to the little bastards. It had seemed like the right thing to do. It sounds absurd, I realize this … because it is absurd. I was a caricature, completely contrived …tricking myself that Jean Luc Godard was narrating my life with stilted but compassionate delivery. I smoked to feel smart, to be complete, to do something well.
The first day I bought a pack of Camel Lights, I stood on my building’s fire-escape and sucked back the entire pack in twenty minutes. I proceeded to buy a pack a day and practiced, integrating the slender sticks into every aspect of daily routine. It was the hardest I worked on something in my entire life.
Now though my fingertips, my whole body rather, no longer existed in a plume of smoke but was incased within the heartening aroma of sweat and campfire. Northern Ontario had seeped into my pores …
As I tossed the damp, smooshed book of matches into the purple flames of the crumbling kindling, the red-tips alighted for an unimpressive split second, and then curled into the charcoal. The only evidence of their existence was the sulphur tinged air.
My friends chuckled at the lack of theatrics. I laughed at my paltry excuse for an achievement.