LEADING THE YOUNG ASTRAY
Probably pierced, blasted, and plugged.
The innocence is gone.
That innocence used to have such promise!
Back in the good old days, before cell-phones, super sensemilla pot strains, and casual rampant use of Ecstasy, hormone supplements, and mom's prescription Valium, kids were delightfully fresh faced and gullible.
And so easy to misguide.
Almost any young man of around fifteen or sixteen would happily purchase a pipe and some aromatic tobacco, or a bunch of cheap stogies bound with a ribbon (factory seconds), then jauntily stroll down the boulevard emitting smoke, and in all ways fancying himself a real dapper Dan.
Cute and by no means limp-wristed or slack-jawed girls would observe him out of the corner of their eye, and think "thrilling!"
And, it is conceivable, resolve to acquire their own smoking accoutrement plus Cavendish, or some cheroots to enjoy privately in a very quiet place, because after all cigars and briars are a male prerogative and though they are fascinated they do not wish their peers to think them gender-bent.
That just doesn't happen anymore.
Yes, this blogger is a calculating and dangerous man to have around your young; I have little real objection to teenagers learning about tobacco and pretending to be quiet and mature adults. It's far better than huffing weed and cruising for splatter porn on the internet, then posting pictures of themselves committing unnatural acts on facebook.
Or pictures of their parents doing so.
A different time, a different place.
When I was a wee lad of fifteen or sixteen, I already had a collection of briars, and was starting to learn about the quality of things. My opinions were not yet fully formed, but my companions and I were reading grown-up books (Marxist theory, Multatuli, Science-Fiction, and mediaeval literature), plus vociferating over imperialism, politics, and the very latest agricultural advances.
But only slight.
We would hang around on the Merendreef after school, passing packs of dark shag around, and conversationally veering into things more suited to an older crowd. If you aspired to adulthood and maturity, and acted always accordingly, chances of being treated as a sensible individual were good.
Civilized people have self-control, and share tobacco.
"Ludwig, I'm a bit short, can I roll one of yours?"
"Of course Nicodemus old man, here's the pouch."
And Ludwig (Lodewijk, or 'Loetje') would hand over the packet of pitch-black hairy tobacco for Nicodemus (Niko or 'Niekje') to gratefully and with adept fingers produce a factory-perfect cigarette which he would slowly savour, as it might be many hours before he had another.
Then both gentlemen would head over to one or the other's house, where they would make a pot of unbearably strong coffee and swear unprintably over algebra till the parents came home.
In addition to knowing and judging all the brands of shag tobacco, pipe tobacco, and affordable cigars, we also knew and judged Karel Ende Elegast, Elkerlijck, Bredero, Stranger in a Strange Land, Bleak House, Catch 22, The Gallic Wars, Plutarch, Suetonius, Mash, Bonanza, and Kojak. Plus Asimov and Jan de Hartog.
We found them all equal.
As well as very useful for understanding the complexities of Asterix and Obelix, Guust Flater, Vader en Zoon, and many other comic strips.
Having discovered coffee, we were often high as a kite.
Boys and girls alike, no difference.
Shag and beans.
[Shag and beans: brands such as Erven de Weduwe van Nelle (both), Douwe Egberts (both), Dragon super-zwaar (tobacco) and other Van Rossem brands, Niemeyer (tobacco), the house brands of Albert Heyn (coffee), Twinings (綠茶), Sobranie (my preference), Dunhill (fancy ciggies and good pipetobacco), State Express, Coopvaert (Maryland), Voortrekker (Maryland), Sail (nasty), James keller & Sons (marmalade, essential for a buttered toast snack), and the merest touch of innocently depraved lipstick (girls only) in cerise or rubicundum.]
I doubt that we were any more interesting than teenagers are today -- exciting only to each other and elderly deviants -- but we probably did have a much better vocabulary, and tastes more keenly felt.
Yes, given half a chance, I would indeed lure a delightful young thing into a life of sin. Instruct her on the proper method for packing and lighting her pipes, how to tell good briar from bad, which tobaccos are suitable for quiet evenings over books with coffee, and why Perique differs from all other leaf.
Or how to roll a perfect smoke out of dark fragrant string-cut; female hands can be quite sensitive.
You cut the end of the cigar just so, that way there's still a shoulder.
Miss, you look so scholarly with that.
Adorable and grown-up!
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.