Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brylcreem and Lucky Strikes, dang it

So I'm watching this silly musical I Tivo'd off of Turner Classic Movies, "Stage Door Canteen." Because I'm weird and I have the urge to tap dance, that's why. In one of the opening scenes, soldiers on their way to fight in World War Two fall all over themselves when their train stops and a young lady starts tossing them free packs of cigarettes, and I'll be darned if it didn't make me want a smoke, and I don't even like cigarettes (I'm a cigar guy, though I couldn't tell you the last time I smoked one).

This got me thinking...hold on, don't do the duck and cover exercise, hear me out. What would happen today if we handed out smokes to soldiers on their way to Iraq or Afghanistan? We would be denounced by a bunch of TV news reporters with their noses stuck up in the air at 90 degree angles. At least that's how they would be on camera just before the camera clicked off and they snuck off for a smoke. We would be called "terrorists" by various health groups. Worst of all, we would be subjected to the most hypocritical of arenas; the congressional hearing, sentenced to Hades by a group of thugs who don't pay all their taxes, who get sweetheart deals on mortgages and any number of other things, who hand out our tax money as if it were candy canes at a Christmas parade, and who sincerely believe that you are too stupid to make your own decisions about your money, your body, and...well, just about anything.

I know smoking too much will kill you, especially if you inhale. I have read the various Surgeon General warnings; my favorite, "Warning! Taking one drag off your very first cigarette will cause your manhood to turn plaid and fall off." But I miss the days when you could relax with a drink and a smoke without making a passerby believe they and the next four generations of offspring were going to immediately keel over from the secondhand smoke (don't get me started on the science behind that). I'd love the days when you could see the shine of Brylcreem on a guy's head from a mile away, and I didn't even live in those times. It was Brylcreem, wasn't it? Or maybe Vitalis or Royal Crown pomade (Elvis's favorite) or, if you wanted to land the Paula Deens of yesteryear, lard (the choice of Alfalfa from 'Our Gang').

"But look how many people from that era died of cancer." Sure. Both my grandfathers did, though one was caused by asbestos in his workplace. The other one never smoked his entire life. Look at how many people die from cancer today. Cancer deaths are falling, but is that because of fewer smokers or cutting edge medical research? Probably both. On the other hand, do you think that in the past the country was filled with anal retentive people whose sense of humor took a flying leap from the tallest building? My guess is that back then, every other person wasn't separated at birth from Ferris Bueller's friend Cameron.

Insert lump of coal here.

Geez, this is a stupid rant. Why am I griping? Minnie The Moaner here must need a smoke, but it won't happen, except vicariously through the old movies.

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