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Reefer? I hardly know her!

(POLINA MOVCHAN / THE STATESMAN)
Cigarettes, long a symbol of sexual prowess and masculinity, are a staple in most post-coital movie scenes. (POLINA MOVCHAN / THE STATESMAN)

Socially, humanity has adopted a multitude of conventions and mannerisms to compliment any social setting.  But what about etiquette in social bedding?  Surely propriety can resume once all frivolous activities come to a sticky end.  Will there ever be a remedy for the awkward exchange of morning-after eye contact?  Thankfully, convention can persist even with this distressing scenario due to our carcinogenic dazzler, the cigarette.  The post-coital cigarette is the perfect prescription for any awkward unpleasantries under the sheets.  How do I know this? I have recently become a social on and off smoker- to say the least, my roommates were not particularly thrilled with this new innovation in my life.  As a form of appeasement, I have limited myself to only the simple post-coital cigarette and nothing more (and yet I still find myself chain-smoking- am I right ladies???).  Many have described it as the new horizontal fixation- yet it is hardly a recent invention.

The post-coital cigarette is a beguiling phenomenon, yet who initiated such a peculiar and roguish tradition?  Unsurprisingly, credit of such a claim can be attributed to a wide variety of social factors.  Firstly, there have been many eminent figures that have contributed to its erotic reputation: Theda Bara, the epitome of an early Hollywood femme fatale, Edie Adams, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and many others have portrayed the common cigarette as a startling sex symbol (and at some point along the way, a post-sex symbol).

However, these celebrated icons are practically upstaged by a cigarette’s sole cinematic representation.  Many characters on film have one in hand to augment an aspect of their personality; whether it’s mystique or passivity, your average spliff can lend itself to any performer as their Best Supporting Actor. Cigarettes now symbolize so much more than risky behavior. From frequent use in film noir or the classic gangster genre, smoking is easily associated with an elite class of people, brimming with ludicrous opulence and sophistication.  In other words, the motion picture has fueled a desire to create a nicotine addiction (how else am I able to identify James Bond?).

Of course advertisement has also shed a subliminal light on the product over the past few decades.  At a time when rampant consumerism was rapidly adopted into American society, the advertising industry encouraged many to purchase their brand, as if they were only one puff away from swaddled luxury.  Smoking was, and to an extent still is, pedaled as a fashionable life-style- if you can, of course, afford the risk.  They certainly are not a thrifty hobby. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, those who smoke more than one pack a day can expect an average increase of $19,000 for men and $25,800 for women in medical expenses.  If that is not a fetching proposal, then I don’t know what is.

Though it’s perfectly reasonable to find disgust in the addiction (the smell is not necessarily an aphrodisiac), you can’t help but admit that smoking looks at least slightly cool.  Perhaps many of us find cigarettes alluring due to our habitual romanticizing of the past, and to be honest, this is precisely why I have journeyed through the “Classic Films” category on my Netflix queue. Historically (and to a marginal extent, presently), cigarettes host a bewitching and sexually-charged stature.  I cannot deny that there is not something glamorous and ritzy about them.  I feel almost perturbed for not having a cocktail in my other hand when I succumb to this repugnant, yet divine foible.

Despite the fact that most people are cognizant of this romanticized depiction of tobacco, there is still something undeniably charming and even intimate in the act of smoking.  Smoking provides us with the armaments to get through any social exchange or uncomfortable situation, which is why the cigarette is highly celebrated among the teenage community.  It makes you feel great, endless conversations become endlessly interesting, it brings together nervous, repressed young adults by making them feel comfortable with each other. A subtle cordiality is shared between those who light up among company.  Best of all, the smoker’s exit is considered an expedient for those who are in need of a mental reprieve from nauseating discussion, and that in itself is a gorgeous prospect.  The thought of taking a small trip to join a frozen, huddled group of social pariahs in a non-smoking designated parameter – sheathed in smoke, mind you- is all too irritatingly romantic.

Having a cigarette in bed with your significant other. While it may be terribly noxious to your health, it’s at the very least polite.

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