SO these are chocolate cigarettes which I must have bought in the Netherlands because that’s where they’re made. And if I took a picture of them then that means I got rid of them at some point.
I’m not sure why I never opened them. Maybe it was one of those things which I find is a very human response: to have it is to destroy the illusion. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. To have it gone. I’ll have these when the moment is just right. When there is a perfect time to have them. For a special occasion. And my life right now is not so special that I want to waste the experience. I remember bringing back some Roquefort mustard from France which I just loved — it was so good on roast beef — so I got a few extra jars and gave them to some people I knew who I thought might appreciate them, including my aunt. Yet she didn’t open it and didn’t open it, waiting for the special moment. And when she did finally open it, five years later, it was not all that good! I remember being angry at her for waiting and having it go bad (it’s cheese in a jar, you know) but I think it was also that I knew too well exactly what was going on in her head; and whenever something annoys me I can’t help but think “Well, I’d never do that” even though I know I am quite capable of doing the same thing.
But it could just be that I don’t really like milk chocolate. Maybe I just got them because I was feeling nostalgic about my youth when chocolate, candy and bubble-gum versions of cigars and cigarettes were all over the pace. The bubble-gum ones were great because they still had cornstarch on them and the first time you took one out you could blow the cornstarch through it (it had a cigarette-paper wrapping) and really pretend you were smoking.
To say “they were available” is really not even doing it justice, as they were really all over the place, eye-level and at most candy stores at that time. And now that I think of it, what I considered a candy store was pretty much any place that sold candy as I wasn’t too interested in the other stuff! Many were newsstands or stationers back when they flourished. You needed paper to write to people. And envelopes! And newspapers were plentiful and even respected back then. There were also these 5¢ bubble-gum cigars which came in various flavors — I remember the yellow one was banana, and it was quite a lot of gum for a nickel, though a single piece of bazooka then was a penny, the cigars had volume.
Of course as kids we naturally emulated some of the behaviors around us and smoking was no exception. In cold weather we used to pretend to smoke because we could then see our breath, hence our smoke. We had this one exchange teacher from Denmark, I’ll call him Mr. Christiansen because I think that was his name and if not it’s a good Danish name, and he was a chain smoker. Every recess we’d go out and he would smoke two or three cigarettes and then we’d go back and he bacame as bad a clock-watcher as the students for the next bell to ring.
Those were also the days of the smoke-filled teachers’ lounge, and it had an alluring aroma af adulthood and responsibility. When you ask why most people smoke they may not know, but I’m pretty sure I started as I was precocious and wanted to be seen as an adult — not cool, though there was that — but really it was about being an adult, reading serious books, not that crap they make kids read — and having your opinion taken seriously. I think that’s all most people want — to have themselves taken seriously when they want to express their viewpoint; and from the mind of an adolescent, smoking seemed as good a way as any to do it.