I could really go for a smoke. I’m a non-smoker. The most I ever smoked was three times in one kinda stressful week in college. And I try to buy the good stuff when I do. No Camels for me.
If I ever want a smoke, it’s because I’ve an itch that needs scratching, and a cigarette seems like the shortest path to itch relief. It never is though. There’s a deeper underlying reason why I have dry skin. The itching won’t abate until I eat my vitamins, or eat animal fats, or stop eating melons, or get new genes. The rest is vapid style.
There’s so much style to smoking. Nowadays it happens outside. Always with the lighting it, holding it in your fingers, sucking on it, occasionally looking at it. It’s the perfect excuse to take a break, because who would deny an itching man his scratch? And it can’t be done indoors. So it becomes a paradigm shift. An opportunity for a moment. With friends, huddled against the cold and the itch. Or alone with the itch.
There’s that kind of moment, and then there’s mortal peril. That innocent girl, tied against the tracks, kicking her petticoat. The mustachioed man behind the bushes, twirling his handlebar with growing glee as his dastardly design is about to bear fruit. And our clean, upright protagonist, whose white teeth shine brightly in his favor as he strains against inconceivable odds to ride his worthy steed to the rails in time to throw the switch, sending the train on a different path, the one without a buxom beauty. The thrall of potential defeat in the moments before improbable success.
Catharsis. You can relax now.
In those moments, either smoking or rescuing a blossom of virginity from the jaws of death, in these moments are birthed a potential writer.
There is no such thing as a Greek muse, but there is such a thing as a moment. Live through enough successive ones with a tolerably observant eye, and one will feel, think, experience. And that will either need to be processed or dismissed.
Writing about it can scratch that itch. But the root cause will be here until judgment day.