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The Cigarette Couple

July 23, 2017

Cigarette Couple

 Most romantic couples – and couples who are not romantic but are together nonetheless – usually forge their bond around a theme, hobby or shared goal. For example, there are singles who meet in a bicycle club – you know, the ones that require its members to dress like neon billboards in spandex and then back up auto traffic for five miles because these peddlers never got the memo that they are not entitled to take up the road as if they were Mack Trucks hauling grain. This social arrangement is ideal for people who have nothing of import to say but have no problem showing off every crevice of their okay looking anatomies. Thus is borne the couple who communicates by grunting up steep inclines while checking out each other’s genitals and buttocks as outlined by the aforementioned spandex. Then there is the not so fit couple who’s shared passion, the hearth around which they lounge together in domestic bliss, is the cigarette.

The Cigarette Couple’s mutual hobby is smelling like a Chicago speakeasy from the 1920s, a time when inhaling glowing sulfur was deemed attractive and healthy – that is, until the pretty Flapper’s skin turned into wrinkled leather and she died of lung cancer when her last breath was a putrid blast into the face of her respectful grandchildren. The Cigarette Couple also shares a passion for matching yellow fingers, not unlike a dorky couple who walk together in public wearing the exact same purple T-shirts. Their on-point message to the world is: “We smoke, therefore we skink, therefore we love each other.”

The Cigarette Couple’s sole subject of communication is their respective supply of smokes. Honey, where are my cigarettes? Each cannot go out on errands without first asking the other if they have enough cigarettes. Do you need cigarettes while I’m out? Many long-term couples will get a dog and both stare at it when they have run out of things to talk about, and this is what happens with our amorous duo as they stand facing each other, tongue-tied, albeit with lingering glances at their respective, flicked cigarettes. Their oral fixation is so strong that often the husband will wish that his old lady’s clit was a whole lot bigger, perhaps the size of what hangs between the legs of the Marlboro Man. They use the buddy system when out in the world, as one will enter a store while the other will stay outside sucking for dear life so to stock up on nicotine in preparation for the next errand when it will be their turn to enter – the horror! – a smoke-free zone.

Their wedding follows the guidelines as dictated by the Cigarette Couple’s belief system. It is an outdoor affair, being that chain-smoking is not permitted in a church, though the husband did once fantasize about founding a new religion called the Holy Church of the Cigarette. The pastor presiding over the ceremony is himself a three-pack a day inhaler, which explains the small-circular burns throughout the pages of his personal Bible, especially at the passage in the Book of Revelation that reads “and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” – the reading of which never fails to inspire the good Pastor to burn a cancer-stick. In other words, the bride, groom and the man about to join them in hazy matrimony all have cigarettes dangling from their singed lips.

The clinching of the vows comes when the Pastor snuffs out a cig and quickly relights another one before he looks from the bride to the groom, both enveloped in a loving tobacco cloud, and says, “Do you, Sally, with your foghorn voice, agree to help blacken the lungs of Chuck, in plenty and in want; in joy and in sorrow; in sickness and in health, mostly sickness, since who the fuck can  ever stay healthy with the way you two foul-smelling apes suck down the butts – I say, Sally, do you take this man, Chuck, to be your husband for as long as you both shall live, which, let’s be honest, won’t be long?” Sally now has tears in her eyes from both the romantic sentiment and stinging jet of smoke just blown in her face by Chuck when she announces “I Do.” Then the Pastor turns to the groom and intones, “And do you, Chuck, promise to always make sure that Sally’s dental work remains a bright yellow hue with traces of black tar embedded between the teeth and gums?” Here a proud Chuck puffs out his chest in tandem with puffing another drag from his shortening coffin-nail, and says, “I Do!” Whereupon the Pastor says, “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride and thereby join your horrid breath with her equally mustard-gas-spewing exhalation – and may those witnessing this feel free to turn away so to avoid throwing up in your mouths.”

The bond felt between the Cigarette Couple tightens when they MUST attend a gathering of civilized people – i.e., humans who are literate in the sense of not ending every statement with “I need a cigarette,” and who value clean air quality. The healthy, well scented hosts are nonetheless obligated to reserve an area outside of the non-gray-stained walls of their homes for these two skink-bombs so that, when the conversation veers toward subjects far removed from the various beards worn by NASCAR drivers or what ashtrays cost at Walmart, Chuck and Sally can flee to their smoggy refuge and there smoke their glowing cylinders and bitch about how all those people inside “aint no better” than them, “fucking a-right.” This is when they see themselves not as halitotic pariahs but as Bonnie and Clyde united against the chicken-shit, afraid-of-getting-cancer world. This romantic vision of themselves is reinforced when they return inside to the gathering and mistake the participants tilting their eye-watering heads backwards to minimize the instant rush of just imbibed cigarette smoke as the ultimate fear and respect due to Bonnie and Clyde.

Squabbles between our pungent couple are often the result of one having pilfered the other’s stash of private smokes. For example, what man worth the spent butts strewn throughout the cab of his pickup truck would be seen dragging on his wife’s Virginia Slim cigarette, and her last one, to boot? The answer, according to Sally, is a selfish man not at all sensitive to her needs, her own repulsive addiction. Yeah bitch, yells Chuck, how about the time you took my last pack of Marlboro Reds AND my truck, forcing me to WALK two wheezing miles to the Seven-Eleven where my hands were shaking so much that only by the grace of our beloved Jesus could I light my cigarette?

Conversely, there is nothing more romantic than the following scene. The man is laboring beneath his jacked-up truck and is beginning to feel delirium tremens from having gone an epic fifteen minutes without a nicotine fix due to his phalanges being occupied by holding up a transmission pan with one hand while screwing it in with the other hand. Luckily, his cosmic mate has been monitoring him in his hour of need and casually walks toward her Eternal Husband while igniting his Marlboro. Chuck has anticipated the approach of this goddess, his precious Sally, by scooting out from under their piece-of-shit F-150 and sitting up to await disaster relief. His savior squats down, takes a long pull for her own benefit (for this is a fifty-fifty relationship), and then places the cigarette between his sweaty, greasy lips, whereupon, in one long, desperate inhalation, he reduces the butt to half of its original length. They now exchange a tender look that is a clear manifestation of their Transcendent Love. Such a public display of affection would usually elicit an “awwww” from an audience, but in this case the spectator would be too busy backing away so to avoid being contaminated by the fetid odor.

The final portrait of the Cigarette Couple is of them posing together in a tribute to Grant Wood’s American Gothic except that Sally is wearing a pink T-shirt with rhinestones spelling out the words HOT STUFF and Chuck is not holding a pitchfork but rather a five-foot-long torch of a giant cigarette, with the caption reading, “We Love, Therefore We Smoke.”

(Check out my writer website: http://www.authorjamesfjohnson.com)

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