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Cigarettes are How Much: or Mayor Bloomberg can Suck It!

Cigarettes cost WHAT? $9 for a pack ofNewports(I’m black remember). Actually this all takes me back to when I first started smoking. (Hazy waves, hazy waves…)

It was my senior year in high school and I worked at a job with this totally rad grad school chick named Jen. She was also black and brilliant like me and working at a job with people she hated and didn’t respect (which I would come to understand moreviscerallyas I got older). I was the office assistant and she had actual work to do and would send me to go get smokes for her when she ran of Benson & Hedges Menthol Lights. Only I was only 17 and we worked on a campus that was hard onID’ingunderage smokers. So she’d not only call and tell them who we were she’d also send me with a note (handwritten even).

The night I was formally presented to society I turned to my escort and said “let’s get some cigarettes.” All I knew to say wasBensonhedgesmenthollights, so that’s what I got. By the next week when my escort was telling me how he’d had sex with his boyfriend in the car seat I was occupying on our way to see Tommy Tune in Bye, Bye, Birdie- we had cigarette holders, the long black and silver ones.

Smoking has always been so exotic and eccentric to me. It was also something grown-ups did. My grandma looked so elegant with her beautiful long brown legs crossed and smoke curling from her mouth. She’d look elegant until she got full of Schlitz and started cussing everybody out. But until that point, she looked like a movie star. And that’s really the crux of it, isn’t it. I’m an old movie queen and always wanted to move like Bette Davis or BarbaraStanwyck. I remember in All About Eve when Bette’s MargoChanningwas checking cigarette boxes to make sure they were full. What decadence.

Fast forward 60 years to a pack of smokes costing $9. So does that now make them a luxury item? I’m buying cartons now and can’t breathe because I feel like I have an unlimited supply. Until they run out. Then I’ll cry because THERE’S NO WAY IN HELL I’M PAYING $9 FOR A PACK OF SMOKES. I’ll have to start rolling my own, and I’m just too lazy for that.

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