Friday, July 10, 2009

"No good reason except they taste good."

A trip to Jake's last night yielded a less than adequate stock of Camel Lights. Thus, I decided to re-introduce myself to Kamel Reds. Frankly, I forgot these things existed. But that hasn't stopped me from smoking the shit out of them all day. I got the Full Flavor variety, because I love the package design so much. The packaging on the Lights always looked to me like cigarettes branded by Mello Yello.

The purchase of unusual cigarettes always releases in me a small yearning for the days when I never had the same brand two packs in a row – or at least the same variety by one brand (you could go from Turkish Golds to Turkish Royals to Camel Filters without breaking any serious rules). And though I know my next pack will be the good 'ol reliable Camel Lights, my inner smoker wants to go get a pack of Galois (blue), followed perhaps by some Pall Mall's, then some Nat Sherman's or those Bumblebee cigarettes with honey toasted right into the tobacco (not just shoved into the filter). Maybe even a trim box of Player's Navy Cut, the finest after-dinner smoke ever conceived by man.

If I really knew what I was doing I would bring back my pipe. I loved smoking a pipe. But that never fails to invite judgmental leers from strangers. Plus it's just more shit to carry around. My Father, as we're all aware, is a smoker of cigars, although his tastes vary from outstanding to the "How the fuck can you put that in your mouth, Gerry?" variety. Cigars to me, though, should be reserved only for special occasions and to those for whom a cigar is a legitimate aspect of their character. Like Fozzy, Gene Hackman or, I suppose, my Dad.

In the end it doesn't matter that much that I've relegated myself to smoking cigarettes almost exclusively. It's not like I'm in bad company there (James Dean, every WW2-era soldier ever), and it is a well documented fact that smoking cigarettes makes you cool. Still, variety is the spice of life, and in this regard I am dropping the ball pretty badly.

It's a small Facebook after all.

I love a good Small World scenario. Like when you're at the bar, or out of town somewhere you don't normally go, and you happen to meet somebody who knows someone from your past or who went to school in the town you grew up in. It's an instant ice breaker, and more often than not you have a great time the rest of the night getting to know this person. Either that or they end up being a complete tool, but that's all right too because then you get to have fun cracking wise at their expense once they've left your presence.

It leaves you with a kind of feeling of kismet, like you were definitely in the right place at the right time if this has happened. I feel like I've met a lot of decent people through these happy accidents, and it manages to brighten my meager outlook on life whenever it happens to me. Otherwise drab evenings are instantly transformed into rare occurrences, and they pepper my memory as moments in which my life has, in some way, shone with randomness.

Anyway. I've started to notice a variation on this happening on Facebook. Take, for example, my experience last night. I was looking at the status update of a friend of mine – an acquaintance, really – who we'll call E. E's a fine kid, and reminds me a lot of other people I've known in my life, though he's just young enough that we aren't able to relate in quite the same way that I do with others. But he's good people (even if he is widely regarded as Lincoln's most insurmountable Cock Block – he's one of those cute, little guys that loves women and who is loved by them in return).

So E updates his status with something mildly interesting, and I add my two cents before the customary mental recording of the "company" I'm in on this thread – mostly people I don't know, future hipsters or people much smarter or better looking than me. That's something else about E, he has beautiful friends. And look, one of them seems pretty cute, and her comment involves her honesty being brought on by a recently consumed fourth drink, so...

Listen. I'm not above clicking on people I don't know. That's what Facebook is about, right? Catering to our underlying voyeurism? Right. And what the hell else am I going to do, I'm at work. So onto her name I hover my pointer, and to the limited you're-not-friends-with-this-person profile I go. Two things strike me. First, this girl is stupid pretty. And second, we have two mutual friends: E (obviously), and J, a girl I went to high school with in Vermillion (and who was, for a time, a pretty important figure in 'ol J. Fantastic's little life).

Neat, right? Like this is the sort of thing where if I met this person and it somehow manages to come up, would certainly count as a Small World event and lead to all sorts of (presumably) great things. So I get that initial feeling of awe – "How random is this? What a scoop!" – and then... what? This is Facebook. So what the hell am I supposed to do with this? It's not as if I can strike up a conversation. "Oh, hey, I see by my uninvited ogling that you and I both know this girl, and she and I used to be great pals. Let's drink." No, all I can do is just sit there and let it quietly blow my mind. What would be, in the real world, a miraculous example of life's random convergences becomes, instead, something that just makes me feel really, really creepy.

It's just one more way in which Facebook is destroying my life, piece by piece.