Through the cigarette smoke
Victoria Moţoc

Now I smoke Virginia Slims. Some long, toothpick-like cigarettes, with a minimum quantity of tobacco, which grants me (does it?) perfect health till an old age. Actually, this is the little trick of a chain smoker who wants to, but cannot quit them anymore.

The history of my more than 15 years of smoking is part of my life.

In 1990 I used to smoke Carpaţi and Bucegi with the innocence of my twenty years of life. I was a connoisseur. I knew that those produced at Sfântu Gheorghe were the best and I used to generously offer them to my smoking brethren. I would offer them with the elegance with which the loaded people of today offer cigars. I was thirstily draining them till burning my fingers down the University halls or during the parties in the student hostel. I was elegantly spitting the wires or the wood I found while smoking and I didn?t care a bit for the deep yellow stains that the vice had imprinted on my fingers. Well, those were revolutionary times! And in jeans, T-Shirts and with lose hair, we wanted to change the world. And the cigarettes.

The transition fulfilled our wish, at least the second part. I don?t know about changing the world, but we definitely changed the cigarettes. We went for others which were better, more refined, more Occidental. But equally deadly.

At the beginning and only for a while, the cigarettes from the neighbouring and friend countries entered my life: VEK, Vikend, B.T, D.S., Apollonia. All smuggled. Bought at a corner of a street from some kind of slick who was showing you a bit of a package popping out of his pocket. Or, in the middle of the night, from a student hostel room, from a foreign student or from his girlfriend. What a life! Sealed packages, filter cigarettes. Balkan spicy-smoked taste on its way to the Occident. I liked them then. But not for long. That is because the Romanian commodity market hybrid surprised us. The almost legal Bastos and Assos popped up. Without any type of warning they entered the Romanian shops and the little trade shops at the first floor of the blocks. I was quite reluctant to them at the beginning. Meaning? How could I smoke without fear, without previously trading with the smugglers, without the killing looks of the neighbouring shop assistants I used to wake up whenever I felt like smoking? I knew it was the beginning of the end. I didn?t grow fond of these two ?traitors?, Bastos and Assos. ?The Cigarette? 1 and 2 scandals proved me I hadn?t been wrong.

There were other attempts. A non-filter Lucky Strike,a Kent,a Marlboro,a Rothmans. But they yet pertained to a world I didn?t have access to. If you want, they represented the classy people you bump into while being at a party you take part in by mistake.

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