Among all the bad habits that one might acquire over the course of a lifetime and which I in fact have acquired, smoking cigarettes ain't one of them. The reason for this is fairly well obvious.
Most young people take up smoking in order to be cool. I knew back in the day that taking up smoking had as much chance of making me cool as starting a crocheting club for 8th grade boys. And so I grew up uncool, but decidedly smoke-free.
This turned out to a wise move because smokers today are viewed only a notch higher on the social scale than used car salesmen, members of Congress, and the guy who directs Adam Sandler movies. So at last I'm finally in vogue, at least compared to those desperate pariahs huddled outside downtown office buildings in 10 degree weather blowing smoke rings at each other, nervously checking the time, and wondering if having gotten a slightly cuter prom date in 1974 made it all worthwhile.
Who on earth would still be a smoker these days? Well, my friend Ellen, for one.
"You're still smoking?" I said to Ellen when I visited her last week. "Why don't you give it up, and be like me?"
"You just answered your own question, Perry," said Ellen.
"Well, that smoke is really bothering me! Cough ... Cough ... Choke ... Choke ... Sputter ... Sputter. I'm dying here! .... Sputter ... Sputter."
"Perry, we're outside the house and I'm facing totally away from you."
"I think it's a updraft. It picks up the smoke, ties into the Gulf Stream, and whips it all back around the planet to me."
"Nice try, but you're more likely to be choking on pipe tobacco Benjamin Franklin was smoking in 1763 that's time traveled."
"Ellen, just trying to be a friend and put into practice what I heard years ago in an anti-smoking commercial --- Mind very much if they smoke!"
"But, Perry, I'm addicted! Haven't you ever been addicted to anything?"
"Yes, but nothing I couldn't give up in a second, especially if someone put parental controls on my computer."
I picked up Ellen's cigarette pack and looked at the warning label. I'd no idea the warnings had gotten so frank and explicit over the years.
WARNING: What are you, a nut job?
This'll turn your lungs into Gary, Indiana!
"See this, Ellen?" I said brandishing the pack. "What do you have to say now?
"Well, at least the warning doesn't include anti-Semitic slurs like on the brand I used to smoke."
Suddenly I had a thought. I leaned over and planted a kiss right on Ellen's smoocher! It had been so long since I had done such a thing I almost couldn't find her smoocher. I think I need a GPS for smoochers.
"Perry, what was that? We're friends!"
"I'm just putting into practice something else I once heard on an anti-smoking television commercial --- If she reaches for a cigarette, give her a kiss instead."
"That was absolutely the most unexciting kiss I've ever experienced."
"Oh, I agree. I'd derive more tactile pleasure from having my lips ground with sandstone."
I kissed Ellen again.
"Perry, that was the lousiest kiss ever," said Ellen. "One more of those and I'm a lesbian."
"Ellen, one more of those and I'm a lesbian! But have you noticed something? It's stopped you from smoking!"
"You're .... you're right, Perry! Your bland insipid kissing has worked!"
"Well?" I said.
"Kiss me, you fool!"
And so on that day about one week ago I had my first make-out session in many a year. It was about as erotic as a mutual fund prospectus and as devoid of passion as a performance by Nicholas Cage, but it did the job for my friend Ellen, who's now flushed her cigarettes down the toilet and taken a job at Whole Foods.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to propose the strongest labeling yet to be placed on a pack of cigarettes:
WARNING: Continued smoking of cigarettes may expose
you to Perry Block and his Smoocher!
you to Perry Block and his Smoocher!
Put that in your pipe and don't smoke it!