I’ve already talked a little bit about addiction (I won’t link back to it, b/c nobody wants to read that trash), but I feel the need to bring it up again in light of new evidence of its overwhelming power. I’m not talking about the dream I had last night, in which I had so much to drink that I couldn’t fall asleep in a timely fashion (???) and had to take a Xanax (???) to fall asleep (true story, not making it up, etc.). No, I am of course talking about the modern marvel known as electronic cigarettes.
Let’s back up here a little bit. I am not condoning smoking; I don’t need to remind you that “tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.” I have smoked 2 cigars in my life, and I found them moderately enjoyable at best. So concludes the history of my smoking. I don’t intend to start smoking, I don’t see its appeal, and I almost certainly never will. DON’T SMOKE, KIDS.
When I’m walking around and I see people smoking cigarettes, I always turn to whoever I’m with and say (just loudly enough for the smokers to hear), “Oh my God. They look so cool.” The joke comes from the world’s worst drug prevention strategy, of having teachers tell kids that “other kids will tell you it looks cool, but it doesn’t.” Literally the best possible way to make a kid think something is cool is by telling him that the cool kids think it is and The Man doesn’t. Anyway, the point is that in the 21st Century, it really doesn’t look that cool — people under about 35 grew up in a world where smoking killed at least one person they knew and loved, and they knew that it was smoking that did it. (Admittedly, my grandfather died before I was born, so that might not actually be true for me.) Smoking is — largely — seen as a disgusting habit that causes bad breath, yellow skin, rotten teeth, and kills people.
On the other hand, there is something that is just wildly, incalculably metal about lighting something on fire, sticking it in your face, and then — with a huge middle finger to your own mortality — taking the toxic outpourings of that fire into your very body and proclaiming you do it because you enjoy it.
You know what’s undeniably not metal? Loading a new Pina Colada flavor E-Liquid into what a repurposed vibrator, wrapping your hand around it like you’re giving it a handy, and then sticking it in your mouth and sucking in some sweet, sweet vapor. Notwithstanding one of my favorite headlines of all time (“E-Cigarettes Contain Powerful, Deadly Neurotoxin” on Fox News — the powerful neurotoxin was nicotine, by the way), there is almost nothing I can think of that is less cool than vaping. That’s right, you “vape” e-cigarettes, since they produce vapor instead of smoke.
And yet, at day clubs in Vegas, at night clubs … also in Vegas, and out on the streets in DC and Arlington, I see 20-something douchebags breaking out their e-cigs and sucking away at them like 4-year olds with lollipops. I have my share of crippling insecurities, but nothing made me feel better about myself in comparison to other people than seeing a bunch grown-ass men who were bigger than me, cooler than me, and get laid more than me belittle themselves by sucking on a plastic vapor handle.
Electronic cigarettes are so incredibly far from cool that I can only see one possible explanation for their existence: nicotine addiction is the most powerful force on Earth, and if putting the nicotine in a glorified tampon applicator can’t stop it, nothing can.