Monday, May 24, 2010

Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette

I live a cloistered life. It is not exactly monasterial more self isolation. It isn’t that I don’t like going places in fact I love to travel. I am a travel junkie. I love exploring.

This week we are in Las Vegas. Yes as in lots of people crowded around noisy machines feeding their hard earned dollars for the hope of a few returned coins, Las Vegas. I have been to Vegas a lot over the years. I watched it go from Rat Pack jazzy cool to family fun center then witnessed its transition into Sin City and finally into convention capital. It is not my premier destination but hey I’m always up for a road trip.

Kahuna had a convention this week in the rose of the desert so I of course tagged along. I figured I would hang out at the pool and soak up some rays while reading a couple of books for review and sipping a mojito or two. We arrived to mild temperatures and made our way to our lodging. Now I had stayed at this particular hotel some years ago and it was quite nice. Unfortunately I forgot that hotels age in Vegas years unlike other places. It had become run-down and in disrepair in very short order.

Kahuna awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed and made his way to his seminar while I donned my swimming attire and headed for the pool. I burst through the doors into the bright sunshine expecting the typical Vegas blast furnace of heat. I instead was met with a frigid wind. I made my way past the pool guards and scouted the deserted area and found a bank of chairs where I would be pretty isolated. Like me, there were two or three dozen fellow sun worshipers who were braving the icy winds. I found a chair out of the direct impact of the 60 mile per hour winds and settled in to read a couple of chapters.

I sat shivering trying to keep my teeth from rattling and tried to concentrate on my book. There was a bank of ominous looking clouds over the distant hills and occasionally a cloud would find its way over the sun making it even more frigid. I ordered a hot coffee instead of a cool Mojito. I covered my legs with my towel. I wrapped another around my shoulders thinking I must look like an Eskimo on vacation.

Like I said, the pool area was nearly empty. There were hundreds of empty chairs all around. There were banks of chairs where one could set up camp and build a fort. Yet for some reason several people decided that they needed to sit next to me. I glanced from side to side as they each squeezed into chairs as close to me as possible.

I continue to read, ignoring my new seat mates. Then I smelled it. Strong and putrid. There was no pre-emptive warning. There was just the distinctive aroma of burning paper and tobacco. I looked up to see my seat mate sucking in carcinogens and expelling them into my air space. “Excuse me,” I said “would you mind not smoking?” The woman looked up at me with a snarl and said “yes I would.” I coughed a little “I am allergic to smoke.” Mrs. Marlboro sniffed “well, I guess you came to the wrong city.”

Now I am usually pretty tolerant of others. I in fact used to be a smoker. I was a polite smoker, always smoked outside, and asked if any one minded. Since I have stopped smoking almost twenty years ago just the slight sniff of the substance gives me a raging headache. There is also that little thing about my mother having lung cancer, my sister having C.O.P.D. and my whole family being asthmatics because of direct and indirect contact with cigarettes. Let’s just say I am no longer tolerant.

I gathered my belongings while shivering and watching the next really large cloud looming dangerously close to the only source of warmth. Mrs. Marlboro snarled and said “well I hope you aren’t leaving on my account.” I hoisted my bag over my shoulder and replied “Lady you are exactly why I’m leaving. People like you spoil a good time for everyone because you feel entitled to inflict your poison on others, and I’m not just talking about your cigarettes.” I then rushed as quickly as possible to the warmth of the lobby and the safety of the smoke filled casino.

Tell me again why I came to Vegas.


Joanie said...

Good for you, Gladys! I just came back from my mother's who is still smoking at 83 (and has emphysema...). She gets furious if she can't smoke near restaurants when we go out - which we almost always do because I can't handle the apt.

My Dr. has had to treat me with steroids for "an asthma-like condition" if I stay in her apt. too long. I'm also an ex smoker but can't handle any kind of smoke these days.

RLM Cooper said...

Gladys, my father died from emphysema. No one should have to suffer like that.

Gladys said...

Joanie, I just can't do it. I would have to wear a mask or a full body hazmat suit. I am sitting in my room this morning trying to breath. I feel as if I have been hit between the eyes with a sledge hammer and I have and elephant on my chest.

Bless your heart I understand at 83 there is no chance of getting your mom to quit.

Angel May - I totally agree. Watching anyone gasping for air like a fish out of water is so painful. You want to breath for them. You want to be able to force the air you take in into their lungs.

Anonymous said...

*breezes through the comment room with lit cigarette, exhaling volumns of smoke*

Quirky Cousin

Suzy said...

I was a polite smoker as well. I quit long ago because I decided I didn't want cancer. I'm a kook!

Your sendoff line to the smoker bitch was so beautiful. If only more people told the truth in life.