When I was in college, I lived in a house with four other women, all of whom smoked. I was the lone non-smoker — not that I was offended by it; I just found it unpalatable. They all had quit by the time we came back to school for spring semester and, one by one, they all started up again.
But none of them ever came close to another of our friends — let's call her Jane — whose habit was so ritualistic, so cool and so second-nature, it bordered on art form. Jane never entertained the thought of quitting. As if.
These Things Ain't Gonna Smoke Themselves (Bloomsbury, $12.95) by Emily Flake could have been subtitled...
... A History of Jane's Addiction (no relation whatsoever to Perry Farrell's 1980s alt-punk-metal band).
Flake, an acclaimed illustrator and cartoonist ("Lulu Eightball"), has taken her own habit and put it on display in hilarious fashion. The illustrations, the internal dialogue, the social commentary — it all had me laughing out loud and thinking of Jane. Here are a couple of pages that particularly made me chuckle:
By the end of this tiny, little volume (the book's about as big as a 4x6 photograph), Flake appears not to have quit. I wish her luck as I know from watching my father and many of my friends — including Jane — try to quit, fail, try again, fail, etc., that it's a long and lonesome process.
Jane quit a few years ago. I never criticized her for smoking, I never begged her to quit and I have never asked her if she misses it.