Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Origins of Smoking

There’s this new study out on a possible genetic link to smoking. Personally, I think all these genetic studies with links to this and links to that are great! They’re helpful in understanding the male psyche. For example, when the wife asks every Tuesday night, “Just once… why can’t you manage to get the garbage out to the street?!” My simple answer, “But honey… I’m lacking that taking-out-the-garbage gene… it’s not my fault!” There’s what?... about 296 gazillion genes? I figure that’ll be enough for all the excuses I’ll need to come up with in my life. Hey, if genetics can explain away smoking, drinking, gambling and homosexuality, taking out the trash ought to be a piece of cake!

Did you ever wonder how smoking got started? I mean… surely some guy didn’t just get the brainiac idea one day to roll some dead weeds up in some paper, light it on fire and inhale the smoke. For one thing… paper was too valuable! I think it must have gone something like this…

Back in the days before electricity and toilet paper… say the mid eighteenth century, our youth’s entertainment choices were severely limited… no X-Box or MTV or looking at naked women on the web and even wiping wasn’t as fun as now. So, always on the prowl for new and exiting ways to test the limits of his youthful immortality, one day Steve says to Chuck, “Hey Chuck, let’s go out to the field, set the grass on fire and see how much smoke we can inhale before passing out!” Chuck, clearly lacking the non-smoking gene, says, “Sure thing dude, far out… !” (or whatever the appropriate youthful expression of glee was in the mid eighteenth century). So Chuck and Steve start having this competition every week and low and behold it catches on with other teens of the day. After all, no one can account for the tastes of teens.

Pretty soon crowds of teens are gathering around burning patches of field inhaling the smoke. Of course, there are some serious problems with this form of entertainment. For one, the owners of the fields weren’t too wild about it, so the kids soon found it hard to find a field to smoke. Another problem… when you passed out, the chances of getting burned were pretty high. And… speaking of high… one day the teens hit the local hemp farmer’s field. That turned out to be a popular spot indeed!

So naturally, the older folks being more responsible and all, solved these problems (maybe except the last one) by localizing the game. This involved rolling parts of the field up into big leaves… tobacco turned out to be a nice big leaf and it burned nicely too. This moved the game out of the fields and into the village and pretty soon the whole village was hooked on the new game. In no time at all, the smoke-the-field game spread throughout the world! There you have it… the origins of smoking.

Of course, 50 years later, the world saw another interesting phenomenon… a huge spike in lung cancer cases. But mankind didn’t figure that one out until the relatively recent advent of the trial lawyer.

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