Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I don't smoke. I never have. My wife used to smoke. She quit. I'm glad she did. I would prefer that my children don't take up smoking. Beyond that I don't think it's any of my business whether or not anyone else smokes. Some of my friends and extended family smoke and I still associate with them. Some people however don't want to be reminded that others do smoke and still have that right, even though it's bad for them.
For a week at Bon Secours Hospital, my husband languished with pneumonia in a room with a sickly view.

His big window looked out over the parking lot in the distance. But closer in, out of sight of arriving visitors, stood an overloaded Dumpster and, beside it, a dismal little building labeled "Smoking Hut."

The building resembles one of those small greenhouses you can buy for your backyard. But its glass is black.

I watched people enter that grim hut as if they were strolling into a favorite tavern. I imagined it as a tight dark space where cigarette smoke would penetrate not only their lungs but their shoes and their hair and their underwear and their pores.

Then I watched them stroll out to return to work inside the no-smoking hospital.

One woman who pushed my husband's wheelchair to a chest X-ray stunk so badly of cigarettes that he decided to skip his return ride. Instead, he shuffled back to his room.

Clouded in smoke

Janette Treuter, a spokeswoman for Bon Secours in Grosse Pointe, sighed over all this. It's complicated and unpleasant.

The point, she said, is to protect visitors and neighbors from views of hospital employees huddled in clouds of smoke.
Have we become so wimpy and so focused on what everyone else is doing that we can't stand the sight of someone doing something we don't like?

With that in mind, Eric Hoffer says,
A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own menaingless affairs by minding other people's business.

Dennis Prager, on the other hand makes no apologies for smoking and enjoying cigars.
There are few personal confessions more likely to alienate many Americans than to admit to smoking. Singles ads are filled with people who will never even go on a first date with someone who smokes. I strongly suspect that more women would date a millionaire who earned his money disreputably than a millionaire who smoked.

Drinkers are far more highly regarded than smokers, as are playboys, gamblers, lawyers, politicians and almost anyone else except child molesters.

So I have no doubt that some readers who until now have held me in esteem will lose respect for me when they learn that not only do I smoke cigars and a pipe, but I love doing so, have no interest in stopping and have been happy to pass this pleasure on to my older son. In fact, we regularly have some of our best talks while we enjoy our cigars.
My brother-in-law enjoys a good cigar after dinner and has offered them to me. I'm not really interested, but to piss off the busybodies, one day I might accept his offer.

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