Tuesday, August 15, 2006

From: Snook (The Elder) at Home

I was smoking an eight quarter stinker on a patio the other day and a fellow sitting nearby--nursing a pint of coffee that looked uncannily like milk that'd been strained through a dusty cheesecloth--called across the isthmus of tables that separated us to inform me that: "It's a filthy habit!"

I ignored him.

He repeated--in a strained, jocose, avuncular kind of way--adding: "Enjoy them while you still can, I guess!"

I was writing something at the time, but here dropped my pen and shot the man a look (whereupon, you should be impressed to note, he withered noticeably). I spoke:

"The large, barn-shaped object I noticed you pull up in is also a filthy, and entirely unnecessary, habit. It is, in addition to this, an offense to every conceivable notion of good taste."

(I nearly wished him a terse "Good afternoon, sir!" but thought better of it--such subtle turns of phrase are long past date.)

Concerned, now, that he might have somehow made an enemy, the fellow proceeded to offer various apologies of sorts, telling me finally that it was just that smoking was such an easy target. The question I did not then ask him, but which I wish I had, was: why the desperate need for targets? Why, indeed, the desperate need for target practice on sunny afternoons in summer outside Starbucks?

... My father was a National Serviceman in the British Army, and often repeated to me in my youth that men couldn't grow up without a certain, actual experience of soldiering. Else they continue to play at being soldiers ... He was, of course, quite right.

Sgur Urain!