I started smoking a pack a day at the beginning of college, and by the end, I was up to three packs a day. Smoking had become both the centerpiece and timepiece of my life. Every cigarette was six minutes long, and I could practically mark out the whole day with smoking, like a sundial. Six minutes on, nine minutes off. Repeat sixty times a day.When I came across this passage in Bob Mould’s new memoir I was surprised. Here was a reason for smoking that had never occurred to me. Cigarette as timepiece!
I remember being delighted the first time I was given candy cigarettes. I could mime the grown-ups at last. I could playact the mystery of smoking. It wasn’t very good candy. And I wasn’t that picky about candy! Fiddling with the candy cigarette told me nothing about what would make one want to suck smoke and stink up their clothes. I did like fire. And cigarette lighters. Having permission to set little fires all day everywhere seemed seductive.
When my brother told me he’d been secretly smoking cigarettes I pestered him to explain what he got out of it. The explanation didn’t sound sufficient. Something about a waky buzz? I tried, smoking at least one cigarette sitting behind a bush near the little league bleachers. When it made me sick I was told that’s what happens to everybody, but you get over that. Plus there’s something cool about it because the people who smoke are cool. Oh? My stepmother was cool? I liked her all right. But, I don’t know, cool?
source: See a Little Light: the trail of rage and melody by Bob Mould with Michael Azerrad