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The Butt Nazi

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

My friend, Emily, and I were driving back to work after a lunchtime visit to my house.  Em was at the wheel and I decided to have a cigarette before we made it back to the office.  We always smoke in Emily's car and, though both of us are trying to quit, the middle of the work week is the worst time to even attempt to enforce our heretofore feeble attempts.

I would like to preface this little tale this by stating that a couple of years ago I ordered a free gift from Camel (my preferred brand of smokes) in the form of a little pocket ashtray.  Essentially, it's a little oblong metal container with a flip-top head.  Flipping it up reveals an ashtray-type attachment where you can stub out your cigarette.  After the stubbing, you simply drop the butt down into the body of the tin.  Unfortunately, it is small and  fills up fairly quickly, but I consider that a small price to pay for the convenience of an always-ready ashtray.   I carry it in my purse and take it out when I get in my car, which I am loathe to admit I do occasionally smoke in, so that it is always available; whether I am driving or out somewhere in public and need somewhere to dispose of my cigarette butt.

I say this because the entire story I am about to relate is yet another example of the absurd irony that is my life (as any longtime reader of this blog can certainly attest!).  Irony follows me around as a constant companion, and, today, it was riding shotgun.

Knowing fate's predilection for irony in my life, I have often quipped that one day I will be without my trusty, portable ashtray, and on that day I will have need to dispose of my butt in the fashion I most despise:  throwing it on the ground.  What is so ironic about that, you ask?  Well, as I see it, millions of people every single day throw their cigarette butts on the ground.  Passer-by either pay no heed or 'tsk' disapproval silently to themselves.  Perhaps 10% of the time - likely even less - some busybody will stop what they are doing so as to approach the smoker and voice their objection to the method of disposal and overall displeasure with said smoker.  After all, as the bumper stickers say, "the world is not your ashtray."  Touche.  Since I agree with that statement, and I, nine times out of ten, have an acceptable method of ridding myself of my cast-off butts, it would be decidedly ironic that the one day I choose to litter (not without self-recrimination, I assure you), someone would take it upon themselves to say something to me about it.

Today was that day.

Em and I were at the light on Essen Lane, waiting to turn onto Jefferson Blvd. when we noticed an old man in the lane to our right (what would be the center lane) trying to get our attention.  Thinking he needed help, Emily hit the button for the power window and rolled down my side (me, I wouldn't have even rolled down the window - I pointedly ignore other drivers while stopped).  He stuttered at first, and then - with a Middle Eastern accent - proceeded to ask me, "Why do you throw your cigarette onto the ground instead of putting it in ashtray in your car?"

A million things ran through my head that ran the gamut of "there is no ashtray in the car" to "fuck off and mind your own business, you old busybody".

The greatest thing was that the light, at this point, had turned green and everyone in front of us, and him, had gone on through.  Traffic was heavy; it was lunchtime in Baton Rouge and we were at one of its busiest intersections.  People were either trying to get to lunch and make it back to work on time, or were returning from lunch and trying to make it back to work on time.

I opened my mouth to ask him why he felt the need to block traffic at noon to ask such a stupid question, but Emily was already laughing and muttering, "oh hell no", and rolling up my window.  Instead, I put on a look of complete flabbergast, shrugged, and said, innocently,  "I don't know" as if I didn't even understand the question.  Whatever his response might have been, I'll not know because Em was already speeding past to catch up to the light (and allow the pour souls behind us to get a move on).

By time we had turned on to Jefferson, we were both in a fit of giggles hard enough to make our stomachs hurt.  While the entire episode was laughable, what got us was the hand gesture he kept using as he was attempting to convince Em to roll down the window.  For whatever reason, to indicate he wanted to ask us about a cigarette, he had made a cutting-scissors motion with his hand.

We have decided that this is now our secret hand gesture for wanting a cigarette from each other and the man's actions have garnered him the moniker "The Butt Nazi".

So, what was the point of the Butt Nazi's assault?

Yes, technically, he was right; I should not have thrown my butt out of the window.  Normally I do not because it is wrong and I do not feel right doing so.  Yet, was my faux pas really worth holding traffic up for?  Did the Butt Nazi have nothing better to do with his time; no where important that he had to be?  Did he not give thought to all of the poor people behind him who actually might have somewhere important to be?  Being inconsiderate is being inconsiderate, no matter which way the cut goes, and we were both guilty of that.  I may have littered the "beautiful" city of Baton Rouge (hahaha), but at least I was minding my own damn business while doing so.

I have to wonder as well, what did he hope to accomplish by pointing out that I had thrown my butt out of the window?  Did he expect me to open my car door, get out and find it, and then proceed to hold it in my hand until I found a proper waste receptacle?  Was he offering to let me put my butt in his vehicle?

The actual question - the query he posed - gives nearly as much pause as the actions he performed to ask it.

"Why?" he asked.

Well, why does anyone throw a cigarette butt out of a car?  Perhaps because I was done with said cigarette.  I realize that's a giant leap of next-action thought there, but I find it to be in the realm of, oh let's say, certainty.  My intention in tossing the butt was not to end world hunger or to plant a cigarette butt seed that would sprout, in the middle of the road, a giant cigarette tree.  Yes, that does sound ridiculous, but so does asking someone "why" they would throw a cigarette butt out of a window.

Now, had the Butt Nazi said, "You should not throw your cigarettes out of the window," I would have readily agreed with him.

"Yes, sir, you are correct," I would have said,  "I should not."

But I did.  So what, then,  did he plan to do about it?  If the Butt Nazi was so terribly bothered by the butt being on the ground,  he was more than welcome to continue to hold up traffic,  get out of his vehicle, and find and retrieve said abandoned butt.  That is his right as an American.  Far be it from me to impinge on anyone's rights!

Frankly, the idea of his exiting his car, flagging to the mounting traffic stuck behind him to go around (with another obscure and incorrect hand gesture, of course), and searching the wet road until he found the offending butt (thereby saving Baton Rouge from any further landscape-destroying damage) would have only added to the belly-aching guffaws Emily and I shared the entire ride back to the office.  For that, at least, I am thankful for his meddling imprudence.

Unrepentant Smoker

Thursday, March 11th, 2004

I am so bad. I smoked a cigarette today. Holy fuck, someone stop me. It can only lead to ruin from here. What in the hell was I thinking? I s m o k e d a *gasp* cigarette!!!!! You know what, fanatical-smoking-haters, bite me. I enjoyed every single nicotine-dripping, tobacco-filled, deathly waft of smoke. You people make me sick.

Probably the best piece you'll ever seen on the lunacy of the anti-smokers is the South Park episode "Butt Out". This website gives a run-down of the entire show, but you really have to see it. The linked article summed it up best here:

Perhaps what they're trying to say isn't that they [The Tobacco Companies] are good, it's that the anti-smoking groups throw the concept of hating Tobacco companies too far. Deciding to smoke or not is still a matter of free will, and although the tobacco companies shouldn't be releasing a product that's naturally addictive and mostly deadly, we should stop trying to be such whiny assholes, yelling at anyone who smokes or anyone who's making money from a product. After all, if this is the case with Tobacco companies, what about stupid lawsuits against fast food companies that supposedly make children fat, or possibly against soda companies since their product essentially causes dehydration, bad teeth, and osteoporosis?

My favorite part of the episode is when the boys tell Rob Reiner that using his excessive amounts of money to push for changes that he believes are good, because he believes that everyone else in the world doesn't know any better, is, quite simply, fascism.

So why does the entire smoke-or-die thing piss me off so? Well, fuck, isn't it obvious? You're fucking with people's free will here. I seriously don't believe there is a person out there that has watched one of those retarded "TRUTH" commercials, slapped themselves upside the head and went, "Gosh darn, I never knew. I'm going to stop smoking today!" Everyone who smokes (barring the fucking retards that smoked for 40 years then sued the tobacco companies b/c they lost a lung) knows the dangers of smoking. We can read the Surgeon General's Warning and we'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard that it's the #1 preventable killer and completely and utterly bad all around for you. I know this, everyone else that smokes knows this. So why do we continue to smoke?

Because we want to! And that's nobody's business but ours and our blackened lungs begging for air. Get it? The kicker? I'm not even addicted to smoking. I smoke, maybe, twice every two weeks now. Yes, that's all. I rarely smoke in public and I've even giving up smoking in my car. Since I'm too lazy to hobble outside every time I want to light up, I just don't do it unless I really feel like it. I like to smoke. *Gasp* It may be an extremely unpopular thing to voice these days, but, there, I said it. I'm not one of those people who smokes and wishes they could stop. I'm not one of those people who has tried quitting and just can't. I'm not one of those people who used to smoke heavily and now hates cigarettes and smokers with a passion. I used to smoke a lot; now I don't. Will I ever completely quit? I doubt it. People, I like smoking - and that's my personal choice. And no one has the right to demand I stop or throw it in my face because of my personal choice.

I spent some time, a few years ago, in the Yahoo! message board's anti-smoking discussions. What a bunch of fucking wackjobs! These people were insane about smoking. Some even going so far as to say parents who smoked (even ones that went outside to do it) were horrible parents and their kids should be taken away from them. That people who smoked in public places were no better than murderers. Murderers. That should give you an idea of just how fucking insane and fanatical these people are - and why I'm so damn adamant about speaking out against them.

Fuck the haters. Next time I light up, I'll inhale a good, long one for you all.

Learn About the Spam Plan

Wednesday, November 12th, 2003

Yesterday evening, at about 3pm, Baret and I were sitting on our patio drinking white wine. We'd gone outside to catch some of the evening air while I smoked a cigarette. I looked over at Baret who was, like me, still clad in pajamas from the night before.

"You realize," I said, "That we're drinking wine in the afternoon still in our pajamas from the night before."

He laughed and replied, "Now that's what I call a day off."

And indeed it was! I suggest the next time you get a day off from work, stay in your sleep clothes all day long, start drinking wine at 2pm and do nothing but laze around all day. I can't tell you what a relaxing day it was - and how much it refreshed us both.

Now, on to the good-natured griping.

An abundance of "pass this on" emails in the work Inbox today. Nothing new there, right? The reason I bring it up as that I came across a cool site that had an informative "Spam Plan" detailed on it. You might know I Am Pariah from the Saturday Slant and The Meme List.

What I learned was that those emails I love to rant about, and that aggravate the beejeezus out of me are generally used as email collectors. That's right, all the 10+ people that each idjit forwards this thing to, and then the 10+ people they send it to are providing a bevy of email addresses for the evil spam gods to gather and spam to death. So this morning, when I received one that read "Wait 'til you see what happens when you forward this thing on...", I had to laugh at the irony. I suggest you read The Spam Plan, and stick to it.

And today I felt like posting a question, so I can learn more about the people that read and comment here - and because it's fun to do something interactive that everyone can participate in. The world is coming to an end. There are three people you can visit and three things you can do. What are your choices? I'll post mine tomorrow.

Have a Happy Hump-Day!

Yeah, I Smoke – You Got a Problem With That?

Thursday, August 28th, 2003

Can I just say that I am dying for a cigarette right now?!

I know it's an unpopular thing to do these days...smoke that is, and, likely, even more unpopular to admit it and gloat about it. But I do smoke and I do love it. Yes, I know it's bad for my health - my lungs, my skin, my teeth and my breath. Yes, I know about all of the wicked things the tobacco companies do to us poor, addicted souls and the evil things they spew forth to trap other ignorant fools (I've seen the commercials and I ,honestly, just laugh at them). I've heard every side of every pro-smoking and anti-smoking spiel.

What it comes down to is I want to smoke. I make a conscious effort to put a nicotine-tobacco-cancer-causing-stick to my lips and ignite it and I won't be one of those asshats that turns around one day and sues a tobacco company because I'm breathing through a hole in my neck. I'm well aware of what I'm doing, and the consequences. Same as when I drink. But smoking has become this huge thing now - I see it one day actually becoming fully illegal. There are many states where you cannot smoke, even on the street, and more and more public places are becoming completely smoke-free. It doesn't really bother me, as I rarely smoke when I'm in public places anyway (I don't want to hear them yakking on their damn cell phones, they don't want to inhale my second-hand smoke; I believe in the Golden Rule, ya know?); unless it's a crowded, smoky bar.

I never really even though enough to comment on the whole smoking tirade, even though I've voiced my opinion of those money-hungry idiots who sued the tobacco companies, until one day someone emailed me and said I must be a very interesting person since the photo in my Yahoo! profile was of me smoking. He said something about being very brave to post such a picture in today's society; I guess it was as if I was giving a finger to the haters or something. It really stunned me; it was never my intention to make any kind of statement, and the fact that such a picture did really got me thinking about this whole smoking silliness.

I like to smoke - no, I take that back - I love to smoke; and I don't really care what anyone says or thinks about it. And I realize that, in this day and age, such a statement seems to bother some people. I think those anti-smoking commercials are dumb and a bit over-the-top (let it go, people) and they never once have made me not want to smoke. Some day I won't want to smoke anymore, and I'll stop. I won't sue anyone, or turn into a smoking-hater. That's my thoughts on this whole smoking thing; care to share yours?