Oh, it didn’t start as a hobby.
In my past life, in America, it wasn’t even something I’d been able to revel in.
Perhaps we have a certain level of awareness about our person, tuned in to the constant barrage of dangers our barbarian society thrusts upon us.
Perhaps we do it differently, like in French films, arm bent casually resting on our knee, slowly inhaling every wonderous gasp of glory, never far from the wanting mouth.
Maybe on the Great American Plains, while ferrying our cattle across the epic expanse of the great nation, leather jacket, cowboy hat, and boots, that torch a sole beacon of light in the darkness illuminating the great nothing, we have little chance to encounter others around the campfire.
It could also be that in America, people have the sense upon their shoulders not to light children on fire and burn their eyes out with lit cigarettes by mistake (intentionally is quite common). Either that, or they realize that the lawsuits would be intensely draining.
Per chance, we’ve been lucky enough to impart in our children a sense not to run into burning objects. They may have learned that should they see something on fire, it’s best avoided, minus the children who are clever enough to seek lawsuits.
But now I know and I’ve learned to cherish it.
I’ve learned to love mistakenly burning children with lit cigarettes in my hand.
Who knew it was so common? In America I can’t say I remember a time when I saw that awe-inspiring, 800-degree tiny torch of death ever come dangerously close to a child. It wasn’t something I even knew remotely possible.
I’d burned a few people in bars, even burned myself a few times during some drunken shenanigans, but for some reason, I’d never see many children during these massive nights.
No one ever warned me that if I was completely irresponsible and retarded, I might carelessly burn through a child’s skull with a cigarette dangling idly at my side.
No one ever told me that children are like bears to honey for lit cigarettes, or bomb strapped, navy trained dolphins to enemy vessels.
And no one ever told me how truly flammable children are (Especially the Japanese ones).
I came to Japan and the signs were a constant barrage, everywhere warning me of the dangers.
Holding a cigarette in your hand, carelessly burning children had become a gigantic national issue. Japan tobacco itself, continuously conveyed the dangers their own company had unleashed upon the populace.
My students nodded solemnly and in unison not to walk and hold cigarettes, all of them chiming in universally about the dangers children were bound to face.
“You burn childrens!” They Said.
“You will injure childs with flame!” They replied.
“You’ll shoot their eyes out,” They sung.
I didn’t believe them until the day that poor Kintaro found the tip of my cigarette butt like a humming-bird finding the first nectar of spring flowers.
My first victim.
The poor little boy lit up like a Roman candle. As he combusted spontaneously due to my devil’s torch, I gazed in wonderment at the awe-inspiring power I now held in my hand.
Who knew that cigarettes could be so awesomely dangerous? I now understood why Japan had sought to eliminate walking and smoking from the face of the earth! It all made so much sense!
But it was too late…
I’d started smoking more, just for the extra opportunities the addiction allotted me to see fireworks displays of the first order. I started walking around more too, knowing full well that I couldn’t find such displays just sitting in a smoker’s lounge.
I now understood the reason behind their warnings, their failed attempt to keep such awesome power under control.
But I liked mistakenly lighting children on fire with my lit cigarettes, and I couldn’t stop…
As I sit here writing this, in a train station coffee shop smoking section, I see a grandmother enter with two young children in tow. They’re running all over the shop, ambling into chairs and tables, knocking over napkin dispensers.
I slowly take a cigarette out of my breast pocket and raise it to my lips, digging for my lighter deep within my pocket and light the end.
I take a puff of the cigarette and exhale, letting my arm hang by my side, cigarette smoking at child’s height.
As the child bounds for the flame like a zombie towards brains, the scene fades out…
(Note, the author doesn’t actually smoke, he just thinks it’s absolutely retarded that Japan has to create policy to warn people of what one should naturally have the sense to avoid)