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Cool: A Character Sketch (standard:humor, 528 words)
Author: Michael GatesAdded: May 19 2002Views/Reads: 2186/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Smoking is bad, but Hollywood keeps telling us that cigarettes are sexy. Here's a guy who thinks he's solved that dilemma.

There's something weird about Bobby, the scary 30-something guy behind
the register at the local hardware store. This is a guy who always has 
a two-day beard and wears a T-shirt two sizes too small--the better to 
show off his pec muscles, I guess. But the oddest thing is that he's 
always got an unlit cigarette in his mouth. "What's up with that?" I 
finally asked him today, while he was ringing up my nuts and bolts. 

"I stopped smoking years ago. But, man, I never stopped wanting to look
good," he said. "A guy just looks cooler with a cigarette, don't ya 

"Yeah, I guess so," I said, wondering if he was saying that I, a
non-smoker, was a bit of a dork. "But where does that idea come from?" 
I asked, trying to elevate the conversation a little. 

"Hollywood!" he said, "the HQ of all things sexy, right? Think about
it--in a million movies there's nothing sexier than those guys who take 
a drag and then let loose with a cloud of drop-dead, cowboy cool. 
Bogie, Dean, Brando, McQueen, Pacino--they all puffed. Know what I'm 

"OK, so why'd you quit?" I asked. 

"Cuz I didn't want to drop dead for real," he said. "So I gave up the
cancer sticks--or, I should say, I quit smoking 'em. But I still have a 
pack of cigs with me at all times, and I'm usually dangling one from my 
mouth. But smoke 'em? No." 

"So it's for effect," I said. "But wouldn't it work better if you lit it
and just didn't inhale?" 

"Hell no. That's wasteful. And I ain't Bill Clinton," he said. 

Apparently, he detected a skeptical look on my face. 

"OK, I'll explain it for ya," he said, addressing me as he might a small
child. "Sure, hanging out with an unlit cigarette in your mouth may not 
seem as cool as puffing, and it isn't--quite. But it does look cooler 
than chewing gum or sucking on a Tic Tac. You can always pretend you're 
looking for a light, and lots of people--chicks included--will offer 
you one. You can always say, 'No thanks, I have a Zippo around here 
somewhere, I'll find it in a minute'--if you want them to bug off. Or, 
if she's hot, you can accept it, then put the thing down in an ashtray 
and forget it. You've already got her attention. You might want to pick 
it up once in a while, though, and pretend you're about to smoke it, 
then 'remember' something you wanted to say and put it down again. 
Cool, cool, cool." 

"Well, if it works for you . . ." I began. 

"The only problem is when some smart-ass catches on and asks you why
you're always walking around with that unlit cigarette in your mouth," 
he said, giving me an evil grin. 

"Oh," I said, nervously. 

"Well, my man, I have an answer to that. You just walk right up to 'em,
stare 'em in the eye, wiggle that Winston around a bit," he said, 
leaning over the counter and sticking his cigarette in my face, "and 


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