Joakim smoking

Memories from an Ashtray

I have vivid memories of poking through one of my ashtrays at home, desperately trying to find a butt large enough to provide me with some relief from nicotine withdrawal. That’s a pretty disgusting memory and it was triggered by the ashtray I noticed outside of our hotel as I was waiting for my Grab (local ride-sharing service here, like Über).

Looking at all those twisted, yellowed cigarette filters also made me think about what it was like to be a smoker back in the day. I never smoked “full-time”. Just when I partied. On the other hand, I partied a lot back then. Interesting how something that was such an enjoyable, intricate part of my social life now seems so utterly distant and foreign. Almost as if it was an implanted memory.

Marlboro Lights (in a hard box, disliked the soft packs) were my preferred brand, and only rarely, i.e. when nothing else was available, did I stray from “Lights”. The two main substitutes were Winston’s or the raunchy Swedish brand, Prince. That said, there were times, particularly after an intense party weekend, when I preferred to puff on the considerably milder cigarettes called Blend. My aunt Lillemor smoked them and that warm, yellow sunset on the package made them seem so harmless somehow.

My mother smoked (Benson & Hedges) and my father literally smoked himself to death (Lucky Strikes, I think). My grandfather smoked filterless fags and a pipe and I’m actually struggling right now to remember a single friend that didn’t at least party smoke a little on the weekends. Most of those I knew did and some of us even both smoked and used snus. Once I started bartending in 1986, the two were often interchangeable. I clearly remember simultaneously being able to put out a cigarette in an ashtray with one hand while the other was busy placing a pinch or a pouch of snus under the right side of my upper lip. Ah…those were the glorious days of invincibility! We could drink, smoke and party like it was 1999. Sleep? Heck no! We’ll sleep when we’re dead!

I don’t think I’ve bought a pack of cigarettes for over 20 years. Not that I can remember, anyway. I’m pretty sure the last time I bought something containing tobacco, it was a Cohiba in Havana. But that’s a whole different story for another time.