So, have a read, maybe have a think about who it is, but keep your guesses to yourself-
Now the compulsory disclaimer is out of the way (minus a picture of some withered lungs) I will give you an overview of a very secret, clandestine lifestyle, that won’t make you any friends, but will keep you on your toes every day of your life. The lifestyle of the Secret Smoker.
Some background. I started smoking at University, so managed to dodge those rebellious teenage years behind the bike shed. In fact, I dodged virtually all rebellion as I was too busy playing The New Zealand Story on my Amstrad CPC 6128. But at university, the crowd I hung around with had a mix of smokers and non-smokers, so there were always people to crash a fag off. And that is how it started. Crashing a fag here, pinching one there (while drunk) turned into buying a pack of 10 for a night out so I didn’t become a habitual fag bagger. This is not a good rep to have among smokers, as you eventually become a giant pain in the ass and they all want to put cigarettes out on your flesh.
So a pack of ten, turned into a pack of twenty, and sometimes there were one or two left over in the morning, so hey, why the hell not.
Smoking is so fucking addictive it is ridiculous. It is a sly bastard too. Those cheeky fags become a regular thing, and before you know it, the monster of addiction has you in its fiendish clutches. And once your cruel master has you wrapped within its tendrils of smoky goodness, that’s it. Game over.
You know you are addicted when the cigarettes run out. And you want one. And against all god given reason you walk at high speed to the nearest shitty corner shop and splurge your student loan on overpriced death sticks. You know it’s wrong, but hey, FUCK YOU! Too late you stupid prick, because the Fag-Fiend has you and he has you until the day you die.
So cutting to the here and now. I no longer smoke. I am not a smoker at all. I slag off smokers as idiots who want to end their days in a coughing fit of blood and mucus. As far as my wife is concerned, I have not sparked up for a long, long time.
But I am one. I will always be one. Because while smoking is disgusting and it ruins your fragile body, it is so fucking good to have a cigarette.
My friends think I am now a non-smoker. I gave up years ago and have carefully maintained this façade. I am embarrassed about my smoking because if people knew about it, they would think less of me. My work colleagues are unaware for the same reason. And my wife. If my wife knew that I am a secret smoker, she would probably divorce me. She hates smoking, and is determined that I will also share her beliefs that it is so very wrong. And I do. I know it is bad, but I cannot stop. So I do it in secret, and here is how I have got away with it for so long.
This is the toughest problem to deal with. Smoking does smell, and if you have had a cigarette, you need to be aware that it is acutely obvious to non-smokers. Your own senses are deadened to the foul reek, so you need to take extreme precautions to keep it hidden. There are ways around this, and it takes a will of iron to not fall foul of Smell, the number one pitfall for the secret smoker.
Do not smoke when you will be around people you want to keep it hidden from you sneaky bastard. Just don’t do it. At all. Ever. You will fail epically if you try and have one in a 15 minute window when the missus has gone to get milk. You will want one, and you will see the opportunity to have one, but for gods sake hold the line! You need at least a 45 minute clean up window. Make sure that the people you are deceiving are going to definitely, absolutely, 100% be out of the picture for at least 45 minutes. Otherwise the game is up my friend. If the 45 minute time window is secured, then go for broke! Do it quickly! Make sure you have maximum time left for your breath and clothes to shed the dirty smoky fragrance.
You may find it useful in the clean-up window to have one or more of the following products available – mouth wash, toothpaste, tooth brush, a can of Monster (the smell overpowers even smoke), chewing gum and most importantly, ventilation. All of these will help you shed the stench.
Also, do not forget your fingers. After a sly fag, you will have stinky digits, especially your index finger on your smoking hand. If you have suspicious parties present, they may decide to sniff your fingers, and if they do it’s all over. Wash your hands and wash them well with fragranced soap. You should of course do this anyway, but hey, this is a man blog and all of our hands probably contain at least some trace of sweat, MRSA and Ginsters products, because we are filthy men.
Never, ever, ever smoke in an enclosed space. This is an instant game over. The smell will linger, and you my clandestine friend are a stubbed out rollie, waiting to be swept into the filthy gutter of nicotine hell.
An honourable mention here goes to the car. Don’t smoke in your car ever, but just be wary. If you have a smoke while off out somewhere, be careful to let your breath settle before getting back in to your man machine – cars are extremely tight spaces and will stink of trace smoke for days.
This is a real challenge, because stubbed out cigarettes stink. So, throwing out that used butt directly into the kitchen bin is a no go. So where do you put it? Throw it over the garden wall? Fine, until there are 50 butts behind your house and a pesky neighbour comes around to complain. Busted.
Toilet flush is an option. This works well for rollies which normally flush first time, but be careful with normal fags. Those filters are like buoyancy aids for GI Joes’ and will pop right back up into the pan at the first opportunity. Also, be careful if the toilet you use is in an enclosed space. That lingering smell is your biggest enemy and somehow it can make an unwanted reappearance from the toilet depths at any time.
It’s a pain in the ass, but the best way is to take the stub and throw it into a bin miles from your house. You obviously cannot smoke near the bin as someone might see you (busted), so you need to finish that bad boy in secret, and head to the nearest local disposal unit once the smoke has cleared. It’s a pain in the ass, but you need to maintain rigid security detail at all times.
Now this one has taken me a long time to get right. Many close shaves, and the occasional minor discovery (Rizlas, filters, lighters etc..) have helped me hone my skills.
You can’t just store your smoking stash in your underwear drawer. You cannot in fact store it anywhere that is used by you or your family. And this doesn’t leave many options. At one point I considered buying a safe, even pricing a few up on Amazon. But if my missus discovered I had a safe, that bad boy would be cracked in minutes, not because of her awesome Michael Caine style skills, but because she would demand I opened the thing and dig her heels in until I did. Or get her father around with a blow torch (for my kneecaps).
So keep it moving. Move that stash like the cops were after it. Rotate your spaces. Find hidden nooks and crannies that only you would think of. And then remember that people will think of them too, or discover them by accident. Move that stash!
I stored some Rizlas once, within my insurance documents drawer. The wife would never look there surely… A timely visit to Sheilas Wheels on her iPad and there she was digging through my insurance drawer and asking me why the fuck Rizlas were in there…. Anyway, I got away with it that time with a rather astounding story, but you can never be 100% sure your stash won’t be found. Keep moving it, and don’t forget where you left your stuff. That’s just stupid.
5. Safe Havens
However, some places are safer than others, and this safety factor rises incrementally with distance from home/work/people you know.
At 5 miles from base, you are reasonably safe. So smoke one up, and get the clean up operation in full swing. Be wary of onlookers and keep it discreet.
20 miles – hey, this is pretty good, smoke like you were going to die from it (you are). However, people you know still live this far away, so just tread carefully. Smoke that bad boy just off the beaten track and you should be fine.
100 miles – fuck it, have two. These opportunities happen rarely so make the most of it.
Never ever break the rules above. If you start slipping, you’re gonna fall. Go out of your way to dispose of your smelly rubbish in a secure and invisible way. Keep your packet of fags hidden in ridiculous places (a tight removable brick in my garage was a favourite, but my dad loosened it – he was supposed to be mowing the lawn. Your hidey holes always get found eventually). Be prepared to take out a mortgage extension to cover your Extra Strong Mint obsession. Learn Solid Snake style moves to keep hidden from neighbours peering over your garden fence (but never smoke in a cardboard box). Accept the downers, when that 45 minute window closes with a slam as the wife can’t be bothered to go to the gym tonight… you were so close to that smoky goodness! And then enjoy a leisurely 100 miler the next day.
Live with the excitement that planning your next secret smoke will bring. It’s a hard lifestyle, but it’s worth it.
And just remember, it’s tough going but….. never give up (at least until lung cancer strikes).
Feel like writing something like this for the blog? You can do so here.