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April 30, 2007

Single Word Open Thread #1

Today is going to be a busy day: Got a flight, an interview in the afternoon and a reading tonight (Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, AZ, 7pm; I'll be the fellow wearing the white carnation), so not a whole lot of time to play with all y'all. So lieu of actually being interesting, I thought I would post a single word, and then you can share your thoughts on that single word in the comment thread - and of course, talk amongst yourselves, and basically validate the theory I've been propogating that at this late date, the Whatever readers don't actually need be to be around to amuse themselves.

Ready? Here's your single word for the day:


Share your thoughts, whatever they may be on the topic, and chat with each other. If this works, I'll post another single word open thread tomorrow, too, and so on. Because I'm all about keeping you entertained, even when I'm hurtling over the planet in a metal tube, going from one place to the next.

Have fun, and I'll check in on you all later.

Posted by john at April 30, 2007 10:42 AM

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Nikitta | April 30, 2007 10:58 AM

One word: Ick!

Alex | April 30, 2007 10:59 AM

Love/Hate comes to mind when I think of tobacco. Sometimes I go away for a while, but I always come back. One of these days, one way or another, I will leave for good.

Percy | April 30, 2007 11:23 AM

Vile was the first word that came to my mind. Actually, if people want to smoke or chew, that's their business. As long as I don't have to inhale the smoke or have flying projectiles hit me, I'm cool. It's irksome only when people don't respect your space.

Jemaleddin | April 30, 2007 11:34 AM

Deadly, poisonous, and delicious. Cancerlicious, in fact.

Chang, the real O.C. | April 30, 2007 11:38 AM

Mostly hate, but also a lil' love.

Hate the cancer, pandering to kids, the lying of the industry and the way it makes its users into staunch defenders of their slow assisted suicide. ANd I'm pro-assisted suicide.

But some women are sexy smoking. And some people do look good with a smoke.

And I loved my cigars right up until I lit 'em up and then I thought, "WTF AM I DOING THIS FOR?"

Ryan | April 30, 2007 11:39 AM

The word tobacco brings more memories than feelings. The summer I was 12, I got my first job I ever had picking tobacco. The farmer would come through town in his El Camino and pick up about 15 kids ranging from 12 to 16, mostly African-American, and take us to the field. We would work from 8-12 and then he would take us home for lunch and then back to the field from 1-5. He paid us $1.50 per hour which in 1977 was not bad for a 12 year old. I made several life decisions in that field. First, that I never wanted to use tobacco products of any kind, it was that disgusting. Second, that I wanted a career indoors with air conditioning.

KevinQ | April 30, 2007 11:42 AM

Tobacco is a great product, ruined by capitalism. It should be smoked slowly, leisurely, not choked down as quickly as you can. But if you smoke slowly, the tobacco companies don't sell as much tobacco. So they invent cigarettes, which burn fast, and taste nasty, but sell like hotcakes.

Give me a long, slow cigar any day.


Brian | April 30, 2007 11:45 AM

The 'I am man, I control fire' aspect of the cigar/cigarette is undeniable, for sure... sort of an homage to Prometheus, I suppose.

But, most of the time it just smells really bad and gives me a splitting headache. And chaw? EW. Try sunflower seeds or plain ol' gum.

Bart | April 30, 2007 11:47 AM

“If you have finished Stephen, pray smoke away. I am sure you bought some of your best mundungas in Mahon”

“If you are sure you really do not find it disagreeable,” said Stephen, instantly feeling in his pockets, “I believe I may. For me tobacco is the crown of the meal, the best opening to a day, a great enhancer of the quality of life. The crackle and yield of this little paper cylinder,” he said, holding it up, “gives me a sensual pleasure whose deeper origins I blush to contemplate, while the slow combustion of the whole yields a gratification that I should not readily abandon even if it did me harm, which it does not. Far from it. On the contrary, tobacco purges the mind of its gross humours, sharpens the wits, renders the judicious smoker sprightly and vivacious. And soon I shall need all my sprightliness and vivacity.”

from The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian

Adam Rakunas | April 30, 2007 11:50 AM

I smoked for a week, once. I also dated a girl who smoked for a week, once. These two things were related.

The girl, who was ridiculously hot, tasted like an ashtray when we kissed. This was disturbing, but not as disturbing as the little white spots that started to form inside my mouth.

The girl and I stopped dating, and I stopped smoking. Though I do indulge in a cigar every New Year's Eve, much to my wife's chagrin. I make a point of kissing her before I light up.

Amanda | April 30, 2007 11:56 AM

One Word Answer: Yuck.

Longer Wordy Answer: I'm actually allergic to tobacco, so whenever I'm around anyone who smokes, I have difficulty breathing. It's not fun. The province has regulations in place against smoking indoors, so whenever I go somewhere that you can smoke inside? It seems so weird to me.

Mary Kay | April 30, 2007 12:10 PM

Tobacco was very important in Native American cultures. If I'm not mistaken, it was used in religious and social rituals. Shame we have such negative connotations for it.


Mary Kay | April 30, 2007 12:11 PM

Tobacco was very important in Native American cultures. If I'm not mistaken, it was used in religious and social rituals. Shame we have such negative connotations for it.


Alex Knapp | April 30, 2007 12:36 PM

There is nothing better than sitting on my porch, a scotch in one hand (single malt, aged at least 10 years) and a fine, well wrapped cigar in the other.

A good cigar, smoked leisurely, is one of the few times that I can really just sit down, enjoy my surroundings, and do some good, deep thinking. It's one of the singular pleasures in life.

Rhiannon_s | April 30, 2007 12:44 PM

I tried a cigarette when I was 12/13ish, out of sheer peer pressure and a desire to fit in. I took one draw on it, then twenty minutes later I woke up in the back of an ambulance with a paramedic trying to shove a tube down my throat. That was when I realised I was cut out to be a non smoker. Apparently the back of my throat just swelled up and I dropped like a stone. Even today even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke gives me a coughing fit, which is why I support the new smoking ban, that and it smells icky too.

John H | April 30, 2007 12:44 PM

Love going to the tobacconist and smelling the rich, loamy smell of good pipe tobacco. I've often thought that it would be good for a manly potpourri (if such a thing can exist in the universe) -- something to offset the cloying flowery stuff that women always go for.

Hate cigarettes and the tobacco industry for killing so many people (including my grandmother and my brother-in-law's mother)...

rochelle | April 30, 2007 12:50 PM

I'm glad I never smoked so much as the first cigarette. I would have been such a hard-core addict. Growing up with two (then three, as my 14 year old sister took it up) smokers in a tiny tiny house was enough for me. I dread visiting my mom's house and never stay for more than a couple hours. Walls are yellow with nicotine and no one understands why they have chronic bronchitis. My lung poison of choice is pollen.

Rick Novy | April 30, 2007 12:51 PM

Tobacco: You can light it on the sidewalk in Scottsdale. Supposed to be 97 degrees today. I'm going to try to get down there to meet you.

Anonymous | April 30, 2007 12:53 PM

Hookah pipes with, like, apple or cherry or coffee tobacco. Minimal carcinogens, maximum flavour to be enjoyed leisurely over a period of half an hour while lounging and listening to music and/or drinking a cuppa joe.

Annalee Flower Horne | April 30, 2007 12:55 PM

Well, I'm allergic too, and therefore support smoking bans (though I like to think I'd support them even if I wasn't). If other people want to give themselves cancer and make their breath, clothes, and hair smell nasty, cheers to them. But I'll thank them not to inflict their gross on me.

And smokers are not an oppressed minority. The ones that think they are may seriously be some of the most annoying people on the planet. There's nothing 'naziesque' about my desire to enter public buildings and work, learn, dance, or consume food without being subjected to a softly-glowing migraine wrapped in paper.

Tatiana | April 30, 2007 01:07 PM

One of our customers (at a former job) was Philip Morris. The checks they used to pay our invoices had the words "THIS IS TOBACCO MONEY" printed across the top. I always suspected that a certain number of those checks went uncashed because people would refuse to accept that evil, evil tobacco money.

Dwight Brown | April 30, 2007 01:13 PM

I'm quite fond of the chipolte flavor, myself: I actually like it better than the original. The habenero flavor isn't bad, either. I'm less wild about the jalepeno flavor.

Oh, wait: you said "tobacco", not "Tabasco"?

Old Jarhead | April 30, 2007 01:19 PM

I am a misocapnist, particularly when someone is using mundungus with nepheligenous results.

I got your discussion right here!

Its already a long week at 10:18

J | April 30, 2007 01:43 PM

Blech. Tobacco is disgusting. Now, I'm 16, so its illegal too. Things that are both illegal and not enjoyable make for a major no-no for me.

John H | April 30, 2007 01:50 PM

I secretly think John wanted to give Old Jarhead an excuse to use 'mundungus' in a conversation...

Anna | April 30, 2007 01:57 PM

My uncle died of lung cancer a few weeks ago.

I don't know, but I assume, that it was related to his smoking.

I'm glad my parents stopped smoking around 15 years ago.

Anonymous | April 30, 2007 02:06 PM

yummy, unfortunately

Shawn Powers | April 30, 2007 02:09 PM

I feel a little like a dancing monkey, John. This is especially true after the "my toe hurts" thing on the google video.

"Here's a word, my little monkeys -- now DANCE, DANCE!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"

But I'll two step, and add that I think I dislike the smell of cigarette smoke as much as you dislike the taste of coffee. Probably more. There are worse things than ass.

Especially pig ass... Mmmm... Bacon.

Dane | April 30, 2007 02:17 PM

Tobacco is a great way to rid your garden of unwanted pests...Take the Beech-nut brand and soak it to make a tea you then spray on your roses and other plants. The bugs won't go near them (until it rains and washes of the residue).

Why would anyone put that in their body?

If you want to control fire (ala Prometheus) go camping more often and enjoy some s'mores with feuerbräu cocoa...

Nick Stump | April 30, 2007 03:15 PM

Well, those of us who smoked for years may have already killed ourselves, but just in case I didn't, I've taken up the use of Snus, a low carcinogen form of snuff made in Sweden, which has the lowest tobacco related deaths in Europe. Snus is cured without heat and that's what make the difference in carcinogen levels. Plus you tuck it in your upper lip and you don't have to spit.

I love the effects of nicotine. In RVN we used to chew tobacco when we couldn't smoke at night. It helped make me alert. Quite a remarkable drug in that it can also relax you. Cigarettes are a lousy and dangerous delivery system. But I'll always have an affection for nicotine. I too, like a good cigar, but I have to smoke them outside as the smell seems to linger, mostly in my wife's nose.

There's also a new almost smokeless cigarette called Eclipe. It has a metal element in the tip that heats up the tobacco without really burning it. It works as a delivery system, but I don't care for the taste. Anyway, I welcome new less dangerous ways to get the nicotine in my body.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | April 30, 2007 03:19 PM

Haven't used it since 1992. Oh my god, do I miss it.

LizT | April 30, 2007 03:31 PM


The Native American scholar in me knows it for it's good parts.

The rest of me knows it for death and destruction. Just got confirmation today that my aunt has stage 3A lung cancer. She'd quit for awhile, but when my cousin died she started again. Both my grandfathers were smokers and coal miners, and both had lung cancer.

I do everything I can to help my husband try to quit. He's still trying. It's so hard for him, but I hope he can manage it.

Grumpator | April 30, 2007 03:37 PM

If it weren't so bad for you, I'd still be smoking. Smoking is just undeniably cool. But I do like breathing without coughing, and never was a hard core smoker. And I totally voted for the AZ smoking ban that goes into effect tomorrow - I'm very much looking forward going dancing without reeking like an ash tray afterwards.

Ken McConnell | April 30, 2007 03:40 PM

My father died at age 69 from lung cancer contracted from second hand smoke. He never smoked a day in his life. I hate tobacco. I miss my father very much.

Andrew Janssen | April 30, 2007 04:26 PM

Never commented here before, but this drew me out of the woodwork.

First thing I thought of when I saw tobacco was the word of the day: Bob Newhart's Sir Walter Raleigh routine.

Matt Jarpe | April 30, 2007 05:01 PM

We have strict rules in our family about what topics are acceptable at the dinner table. Mostly targeted at references to bodily functions of elimination. Our son is 6.

Last fall I took him out to breakfast at Panera (it's something we do, to let my wife sleep in) and he wanted to tell me something he saw at school. He whispered across the table to me "Dad, is it OK to say 'tobacco' at the table?"

I guess he's been hit from all sides with the anti-tobacco message. One on hand, that's a good thing because there is no single worse thing you can do for your health, period. On the other, I wonder if the aversion trend has gone too far and gotten too shrill.

MikeB | April 30, 2007 05:19 PM

Haven't smoked since 1972 and don't miss it in the slightest. In retrospect it seems such a silly thing to do. But, there again, killing yourself tends to seem such a silly thing to do too - think of all the future you're going to miss...

Linda | April 30, 2007 07:19 PM

After multiple deaths in my family from smoking-related illnesses, and my father with COPD and heart disease related to his smoking, I don't believe that we, as a society, should encourage smoking in any way. And, yes, I'm including cutting any subsidies to tobacco farmers and allowing smoking in public areas.

And, yes, 21 years after I quit, I still want a smoke now and then. And they say it isn't addictive!

Ty | April 30, 2007 07:38 PM

Tobacco is much too expensive and too controversial for a jobless student, living off of dreams and the good will of my family.

I've never been offered a cigarette (I would have refused it if I had --too many bad habits as it is). If I needed another habit, and if I decided that tobacco fit the bill, I'd try to grow it myself. It is a very attractive plant, and not so dangerous in its natural form.


Of course, there is always second hand experience:

It took me two years to realize that the smell that reminded me of her was a combination of cigar smoke and pot. It was the smell of her skin and my fingers when she'd held my hand. I admit, I feel a little betreyed that is the smell she left me craving, and that she never told me that those were her habits: I'd always expected something much more sinister of her.

Heather Doan | April 30, 2007 07:53 PM

YUCK... I quit 11 years ago. Hate the stink of cigarettes and they give me one hell of a headache.The worst thing to see is a pregnant woman with a cigarette hanging from her lips... I'm sure the baby needs that crap!

OK I'm done

hugh57 | April 30, 2007 08:02 PM

One of these days, I'll try to kick the habit. Not only is it getting to be extremely expensive, we smokers are complete pariahs in an increasing number of cities and states (including my home state of Ohio, which just passed Issue 5 last fall), forcing us to go stand out in the rain and snow to indulge our addiction. At this rate, I'll probably die of pneumonia before I get lung cancer. ;-)

Ralph_Desmond | April 30, 2007 08:41 PM

Finally quit almost a year ago after 20 years of delicious cigs.
I still miss it, but 99% of the time I'm more ecstatic to have finally found my way to the other side of the huge addiction wall.

I think a topic that is usually missed when talking about the health issues is the mental health. Nicotine addiction is slavery. It changes and rearranges brain chemistry to such a huge extent that it becomes a strong force in a person's motivations, decision-making processes, and so much more.

Without cigarettes in my life, I'm so much happier without the smell, the shortness of breath during exercise, the expense, and increased risk of painful early death. I'm equally pleased to have my mind back.

That said, I still want one. The difference is I no longer need one.

Nathan | April 30, 2007 08:53 PM

I'm still subsidizing R.J. Reynolds.

Fred Kiesche | April 30, 2007 08:54 PM

I am amused to think that in the classic "Cities in Flight" tales by James Blish (the first book, as a matter of fact) the key to the anti-aging drug was...tobacco!

Syd | April 30, 2007 10:35 PM

Recent arrival delurking to comment...

Mom smoked most of her life. (I loathed it--not only have I never smoked, I don't recall anyone ever offering me a cigarette.) When Mom would ask me to bring her a fresh pack of Herbert Tarytons from her nightstand, I practically had to use tongs. Then she finally quit cold-turkey...and died of a massive coronary two months later. And I now cough so much when around cigarette smoke that if I'm not actually allergic, I might as well be.

On the other hand, I've always enjoyed the aroma of sweet pipe tobacco, and while I find cigar smoke absolutely vile, the scent inside a cigar box? Yummy...

Weirdo, re-lurking...

Sara | April 30, 2007 10:42 PM

Two responses:
1) free at last!
2) stinky, very very stinky. Stinky house, stinky car, stinky clothes, nasty stinky breath.

I quit in January (freedom!) but my husband still smokes (in the house... stinky).

ian | May 1, 2007 12:12 AM

i'd rather grow hemp

Dr. Phil | May 1, 2007 01:11 AM

My dad smoked when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s. He still smokes some, but not in the house, at age 88. Cigarettes and pipes. Some of the pipe smoke has pleasant elements.

What's funny is that (a) I've never smoked and (b) despite growing up in "a house which smoked", I am incredibly sensitive to it now. There are some local restaurants, which I know that as soon as I get home I have to strip off everything and put the clothes in the back bathroom, because I cannot even leave them in the bedroom. And I have to wash my hair and beard. Otherwise my throat starts closing up.

I've never been sure how much is sensitization from an early age or thirty years of living in a largely smoke-free lifestyle.

But as a kid, even though I had no interest in smoking (or alcohol or drugs), it was never an issue either.

Hate to think I've become a whiny wimp, but there you are. (grin) Some of my SF characters smoke, but in the 29th century they have detergent treatments for lungs... (double-grin)

Most interesting tobacco related smell -- at some of the Colonial restoration villages, you can run across rum or molasses cured tobacco leaves.

Dr. Phil

Anonymous | May 1, 2007 01:54 AM

I'm several years free, but I know I'm always addicted. Posting anon in case insurance people search...

Oddly enough, the TV show Friends expressed it admirably, "Oh, dark mother, once again I suckle at your smoky teat."

I'm disgusted by tobacco, yet strangely excited from time to time.

Spherical Time | May 1, 2007 02:28 AM

My thoughts are:

I hope my mom can quit. She's always failed before. She's doing better on this run than ever before, but I'm still very worried about it.

quitter | May 1, 2007 02:37 AM

THE best method to quit and succeed: Cold Turkey

whyquit.com Highly Recommended.

Nikitta | May 1, 2007 04:01 AM

Being asthmatic makes me kind of biased because I like to, you know, be able to breathe. Then again: I could also make quite a rant about people who practically bathe in their perfume. I'm not allergic or anything, but a few people wear so much perfume that I have to keep a certain distance to them in order to be able to breathe normally.

My boyfriend smokes, but goes outside to do so and has done that since we moved in together. I just don't think he realises how strongly he smells right after a smoke and for how long the smell lingers. He has tried to quit, but so far he hasn't managed. I keep hoping, though.

Nathan | May 1, 2007 07:20 AM

I was pretty glib in the response I posted last night (I usually am), but...

I resent that I've been made into a pariah because I smoke.

I resent that NYC is balancing its budget by adding something like $4/pack in taxes (but I don't qualify for any of their free "quit smoking" programs because I have an income.)

I resent that when I fly cross-country with a stopover, I have to go outside to have a cigarette and then go through security all over again. (Sorry, it's not easy for me to go 5 hours without a cigarette.)

I resent a lot of things, but I'll leave it at three for the moment.

Marja | May 1, 2007 08:34 AM

My mother died of coronary artery disease when I was 26, ten years after she was first diagnosed as having it. She had most of the other risk factors: several close relatives had died of it, too much weight etc, so I don't know how much it would have mattered if she had never smoked, but perhaps it would have given her at least a few more years. She had quit when she found out she was pregnant with me, but started again when I was eight, then quit again a few years before that diagnosis. Yes, I don't like tobacco. Added to the memories of her sickness and death there is are those of the car trips when my parents would smoke while I whined that it was making me feel sick... Well, that was the sixties and early seventies, most people smoked then. Cigarette smoke still makes me feel bad, so I do like the public smoking bans.

John | May 1, 2007 08:41 AM

Sweet poisonous disgusting addiction.

Hi, my name is John and I'm a tobaccoholic (Hi John).
It's been almost 2 years since my last cigarrette, and 7 years since I quit smoking regularly. In general, they disgust me, but at times I still find them enticing. But I'm always disgusted with myself after backsliding... waking up after a night of drunken debauchery and having that taste, that smell... uck.

Eric | May 1, 2007 08:57 AM

My first reaction: Gaaah, does that stuff stink! The way my nose is wired up, tobacco smells much nastier than 3-day-old sweat.

My second reaction: So, so many dead relatives. Smokers in my family die young. Combine it with too much booze or cholesterol, and we'll have a heart attack in our 30s. I don't have the genetics for bad habits.

Andy | May 1, 2007 10:47 AM

Ty, the end of your post was amazing! There's a short story in this description. You should post it on ficlets. I'm going to paste it in here again, becasue as Lewis Black says, "it bears repeating."

Ty wrote:
Of course, there is always second hand experience:

It took me two years to realize that the smell that reminded me of her was a combination of cigar smoke and pot. It was the smell of her skin and my fingers when she'd held my hand. I admit, I feel a little betreyed that is the smell she left me craving, and that she never told me that those were her habits: I'd always expected something much more sinister of her.

Dr. Phil | May 1, 2007 12:48 PM

Nathan -- I'm sorry. Even when I posted above and talked about my own current sensitivity to smoke, I was going to mention this odd pariah status in this country and forgot. It was late.

Sure, I could go on about statistics and health risks, but they are partly besides the point. Lots of people do things which are unhealthy or dangerous -- and having started, find it hard to quit. Often when I get on my high horse and rail against something like drunk driving, what I'm really doing is railing against a system which tacitly ignores drunk driving as well as trying to convince my students, who may still have some choice in the matter, not to do it.

What the hell does that have to do with smoking? Well, living in Michigan lo these many years, I cannot see smokers huddled outside of doors to buildings without asking what the hell are we doing to people? Yes, they aren't smoking in the building. Yes, you can't get into some buildings without running a gauntlet of smokers. Yes, most of the smokers I know on campus are reasonably polite and good natured at being ghetto-ized. And yes, my smoking students are genuinely touched when I risk weather and smoke to stand outside to talk to them, class related or not, as long as I can stand upwind of them.

I mean, at the point where I see three people huddled together outside, braving a horizontal 30 mph wind and sleet while sharing three minutes of time together to have a cigarette, I'm not seeing "choice" as a strong variable in this equation.

As much as I dislike smoking, I don't think we are doing nearly enough to accomodate smokers -- and air travel is bad enough without making it worse. Most days I'd rather take a smoker than a drunk.

Dr. Phil

quitter | May 1, 2007 05:09 PM

As much as I dislike smoking, I don't think we are doing nearly enough to accomodate smokers -- and air travel is bad enough without making it worse. Most days I'd rather take a smoker than a drunk.

Its true, Dr. Phil; some specifically engineered ventilation could easily allow smokers to do their thing on a plane or in a bar with nearby innocents not even detecting the odor.

When I smoked & lived in a non-smoking B&B in Colorado, I'd often sit very close to the fireplace or heat-stove instead of braving the -20 degree outdoors. The updraft was enough to suck away 100% of the smoke and smell, so no-one ever could tell, including people sitting 2 feet away from me - they'd often notice with their eyes that I was smoking after I'd already been smoking for several minutes.

Madeline F | May 1, 2007 07:31 PM

Tobacco: I worked with tobacco plants in a lab once, and everyone who says the plant sucks is so right. Sticky and nasty-smelling and full of sap that it's just itching to launch at you... Sticky! Nasty-smelling!

Tobacco: Damn shame. I've heard before, as someone said above, that nicotine is a remarkable drug. When you're anxious, it will help you chill out. When you're zoned, it will help you focus. When you're happy, it will help you savor the moment, and when you're sad it will help you endure. I'd've liked to have tried the nicotine-water that the FDA quashed. And pipe smoke smells very nice; the pipe process seems like fun, too. I've stayed clear, though.

Tobacco: when I see people smoking I practically do a double-take. It's not quite like seeing someone hitting their kids; more like seeing someone in a sprung-elastic lime tube top carrying a yappy dog. The OMG I can't believe they're actually doing that combined with vague pity. Cool? Man, what are you smoking? ;) Cigarettes are nasty, nasty... Like the plant itself, you want to wash yourself off and stay away.

Scorpio | May 1, 2007 08:09 PM

I like it. It hates me.

So I've not used any for over 7 years -- but I still consider myself an addict.

I dream about smoking.

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