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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Smoker's Diary #12: First Time, Matt

Photograph by Rob San Miguel (Seoul 2008)
Matt takes pride in the fact that he has never been addicted to anything.  In fact, he is secretly proud of himself for not succumbing to any addictive substances like alcohol, cigarettes, and even relatively harmless ones like chocolates or cheeseburgers.  He goes to the gym three times a week and plays basketball with his former college buddies every Saturday morning.   In the evening, he meets his girlfriend of 2 years.  If Matt’s former college frat buddies are to be believed, Matt’s girl is plain looking and disproportionately unattractive compared to Matt’s smoldering charisma.  Matt himself is a typical jock, his looks aren’t remarkable but he somehow gets people’s attention with his imposing physicality.  Matt’s girl is a petite girl barely at 5’5”.  Matt and his girl often eat out, trying new cuisines every week but only eating just enough to satisfy his discriminating trained palate.  They have tried almost all cuisines from the very exotic like Javanese to the run of the mill kind like Italian.   After dinner, they make love and depending on their schedules, Matt’s girl would stay in his apartment and they would have breakfast together.  Matt’s girl is the type of girl that is good on paper, so to speak.  She exhibits an air of intelligence that people say augment her lack of beauty, although Matt often defended that beauty is a relative term.  Matt’s girl graduated from one the most prestigious universities in the country and she currently works as a lawyer in a reputable law firm.  Three years ago, Matt’s girl used to be a chain smoker, which is not unusual considering her circle of friends. She claimed that smoking was the only thing that relaxed her and her law classmates while reviewing for the board exam.  When she met Matt and subsequently fell in love, one of Matt’s conditions was that she quit smoking.  Matt was supportive all throughout and helped her beat her so-called addiction.  “So-called addiction” as his girl used to say because she was doubtful if Matt could actually succeed in making her quit out of love.  A year later, Matt’s girl successfully stopped smoking. January 15 was the exact date. It has been a year and half that she has not smoked a single stick.  She even claimed that she no longer has the urge.  Smoking repulses her. 

In a reunion of his former fraternity brothers, Matt’s friends tried their best to get Matt drunk but the best they could do was just make him tipsy. After 10 bottles of strong beer, they all gave up. Some of the former frat boys, including Matt, even took a break from the party and played one round of basketball in the open court just outside the reunion venue. They all sweated the alcohol out of their system.  After the game, William, one of his best friends and who was also a smoker, dared him to smoke a joint.  Matt proudly obliged and shouting that he was too invincible to be intoxicated.  He put the newly rolled up joint between his lips, inhaled it like a whale inhales air.  He kept smoking it for a few minutes but he couldn’t feel any sensation or any peculiar difference in his perception.  It was just a burning stick of dried bits of leaves for him.  William offered him another one but Matt said no. “It’s a dud!” he said. “I hate duds, and you know that!”

That was ten years ago, Matt and his girl are now married and they have two children.  Matt, as expected, has never smoked another joint after the frat reunion.  His girl quit her job at the law firm to raise their two kids. Every Saturday, after he makes love to his wife, he is silently appreciative of his happy life.  It is not perfect, he thinks, but it is better than the lives of others. 

The only thing that seems to puzzle him is the single crystal ashtray on their coffee table in the living room.  His wife’s mother gave it to them as part of a wedding gift.  That did not surprise Matt because her wife’s mother was famous for being an eccentric. Matt’s wife kept the crystal ashtray and placed it on the coffee table.  One time, Matt asks her why the ashtray was still on the table. She said it was for the guests.  But Matt said that all their guests had always been cordial enough not to smoke in their house.  His wife said, “Then, it is just a useless piece of crystal. It’s nothing more than a harmless decoration. Leave it. It complements the coffee table and the whole living room.  Anyway, no one uses it.”

If you do get to visit Matt’s house, try to look at the unused sparkly ashtray on the coffee table, in the middle of the room. Perhaps, you’ll be the first to use it properly.

Next: Smoker's Diary #13

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