I have never been a cigarette smoker. I was a pipe and cigar smoker at various times of my life. Once I was curious about cigarettes, so I bought a pack. They tasted nothing like they smelled - they tasted kind of dirty, compared to pipe smoke. So I decided to leave the cigarette smoking to the cigarette smokers. I did not decide to ostracize and persecute those around me who enjoyed smoking. I tolerated them, and that's how liberty works.
I've always liked the smell of a burning cigarette, though. It's the smell of someone enjoying a singular bit of pleasure and relaxation. My mother used to smoke when we were children, and someone burning a cigarette early in the morning can still bring back memories of being the first one up, and having Mom all to myself.
Whenever I want to evoke the memory and spirit of my grandfather, I have only to find and ignite a White Owl Ranger. (for those who dwell in caves, the White Owl Ranger is a Cheap Cigar). For days afterward, I can live in the blue haze in which my grandfather dwelt.
And the mysterious smell of a tavern in the morning with its mixture of cold musty basement air with hints of stale beer and thousands of cigarettes burned away -- maybe it's not a part of everyone's life, but it's a part of mine.
My first trip to Las Vegas was such an eye-opening experience. Just walking into an old casino and taking in the hazy blue air, the years fell away. I realized at that moment that something precious had been taken away from me, and it had been taken so gradually that I hadn't even noticed its departure. There's still a little liberty left out there in Vegas. Places where people can indulge themselves, without fear that the Nanny Police will indulge their little quirks by stomping out the pleasures of others.
Society is dominated by cowardly bullies - "I don't like it, so you can't have it!" seems to be the rule of the day, and - one by one - these cranky paltry prissy pet peeves are coming to the forefront. Each time they make an advance, another precious liberty is eroded away, a freedom gone forever.
So this week, it's the Wisconsin smoking ban going into effect in all "workplaces" of the state. You want details? Google it! Tonight I think I'm going to enjoy a hot summer night of watching the traffic go by in front of my building with an old cigar I've been saving for just such an occasion. While I still can.
Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52
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