What else made this morning bizarre? The scene on the train platform. Scene might be too strong a word, but while standing on my Northbound side of the tracks, there was a bit of activity on the Southbound side that made for a nice anti-Norman Rockwell episode. Not that I’m anti-Rockwell mind you! He just seems to have such great still shots of a “perfect” moment from a “perfect” American life and this was quote the opposite. I use the quotes there for a reason – what is perfect to Rockwell might not be perfect to all. What I saw today would make a tobacco executive get sticky pants and the MTV exec’s stay up all night with marketing to find the next big “spoodge” for their industry.
You can call it a bizarre morning already. I was late leaving the house, yet was able to park in a pretty good location at my up-to-now closed-for-construction commuter lot. That in and of itself is weird, but to get into a spot at all that late in the day – just five minutes before the 2nd to last peak train… that gets the situation upgraded to bizarre. I am also without a book to read; I just finished re-reading Snow Falls on Cedars last night. I had read it about 2 years ago, when it first became popular, but I didn’t like the way it ended – I found that after the last page, I was searching for more pages. Anyway, my point is that I purposely left the “next” book at home, which means I intended to write up another entry into my Blog. (For those of you that have been reading this site, just because you know (or know of) me, that’s what this is – a Blog. Blog is short for Web Log, which loosely put is an ongoing journal that is posted to the web; a means to an end for me really, as I just like to “share” my opinions with the world – or at least the immediate area around me.) Anyway, I was all set to write about “Seating at Yankee Stadium,” which I might do later anyway, but then the bizarre morning started off.
First some background. Around my train station there is an all-girls private high school (yes, I applied there when I was in middle school but the tight asses there discriminated against me b/c of my gender… jeesh) that a number of neighboring towns send their daughters to. Since there is an ever constant shortage of licenses (and cars) as well as parking at the school for their students, a large number of the girls (women? I think not – they’re girls) take the train in from the surrounding towns. Since there is more money in western Connecticut, than eastern Connecticut, the trains coming in from Fairfield county (ironically on the Southbound platform) usually deposit a large gaggle of students on the platform, while I’m waiting for my train. For the last five years, the same thing invariably happens. A small cache of girls end up staying on the platform to smoke a butt or two and giggle profusely. Obviously, if I’ve been taking the train for over five years, even the original class of freshman that had just started there would be long gone by now, so yes, this is a Stereotype and a legitimate one at that. Why? Because it keeps happening! How else does a cliche become a cliche?
So anyway, without fail, some of the parents on the Northbound platform will mumble, grumble, and make outright comments about “these kids starting to smoke so damned early” – this makes me think of the villains in a Scooby Doo episode, but anyway who’s to say that they are or aren’t right? – and get all pissy about it. What amuses me is that no one seems to think about why or how they started with the smokes in the first place. Let’s look at that for a moment. Peer pressure is mostly bunk – I say this for two reasons: most kids today are so selfish about their own desires, that they will not do something that they don’t want to do, at least my own experiences. There is also the group of kids that will have character and backbone enough to decide that they don’t want to smoke at all – I find this to be more common today than when I was in HS. Speaking for myself, I saw ‘bacco cause health problems in my entire family and even years ago, I knew my limits: I’m not a quitter, so I better not start! Back to how teens start smoking… how about, plain and simple, that it feels pretty kick ass? That light headed rush you get, when you get past the side effects of initial hacking and nausea, is something that cannot easily be duplicated. In fact, most smokers notice immediately that the second cigg doesn’t give you as much a kick as the first. And the third even less. This is the “hook” of ciggs: they give you that first burst and the rest of your life, you try to get it back again. But the simple fact is that if feels good. So, duh. Alcohol is off limits til 21, and with that there’s massive “inconveniences” by teen definitions – can’t drive, can’t go to work, etc. – so it’s a problem. All other “feel good drugs” are off limits as well (right or wrong, it’s still a fact) so what’s left? Tobacco. It’s available at 18, it’s at every corner store, and aside from the whole health thing, it’s got some oomph to it. That’s why teens start. Not cuz it’s cool, or hip, or hot, or whack, or phat – it makes ya feel good. And for girls in this age range, it also helps to control appetite, so you keep a slimmer figure – don’t tell me the average Cosmo-reading, JLo-loving, *NSync-lusting, estrogen-hoarding, breast-developing teenage female wouldn’t want that. I’d have to call you a liar.
So teens smoke regardless of Just Say No campaigns, and Phillip-Morris’ anti-tobacco ads, and anything marketing related. Yay, we’ve proven that easily enough. The question I feel I ask is, how do they get them – the cigarettes? That’s easy. Enough stores don’t card. And have you seen the teens today? They look older than I do! Walk about the local mall on a Saturday afternoon. You’ll think it’s a singles bar, rather than being around a group of HS kids. That and you will always get a group of pre-18 year olds that are friends with 18+ year olds. Either via someone’s boy/girlfriend, or a relative, etc. That’s all it takes, is one. I just find it odd that no one seems to care that a teen will get a controlled substance in the first place. Of course, here in CT, we have that new cigarette tax, which puts packs at about $5. That will help control it. In adults too, because at $50/carton a savings account can get shredded.
The bizarre thing today, however, wasn’t that the girls were smoking. And it wasn’t that teens smoke, or that ciggs are engineered to be addictive by including a pesticide on purpose, or that marketing companies target children or anything as profound as that. The bizarre thing was that one of the construction workings, currently working under the Southbound side platform, pokes his head out for a little for a minute. The girls, unaware, are chatting and smoking. Now, historically speaking, most girls at private HS wear briefs over underwear and even boxers or shorts – it’s not like the fifties where the “Little Ladies” had knee length skirts and “proper” undergarments – so I’m certain he wasn’t looking straight up their skirts on purpose, nor would I think the girls would care b/c they’re covered completely anyway, but that’s still the angle he was at. No, he didn’t poke his head out for a peek – he wanted to bum a butt of the girls. And the girls, being good natured, gave one up to the guy, who was thankful and went off to a union-sanctioned break between breaks.
Is there something wrong here? Ya got me – instinctively, I see huge problems, but I can’t put a finger on it. Something is wrong there, though… of what who can say, but if you’ve figured it out, you’re a better person than me – I’m just bothered by it.