Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tales from the Arcade IV: More smoking, with 100% more iPhone

Three days ago, I finally got a mobile phone — an iPhone, that is. It set me back $200 out of pocket ($600 altogether, excluding plan, but my parents paid for part of it), and for the money I'm really enjoying it. What I do most of the time is use the Safari browser or run the camera.

It was yesterday, though, when I decided to take it to the public. Many people were fascinated, some downright jealous, ever since I decided to just take it outside. And yes, some kid made a point of using it to attract the attention of girls in the group. It happened, yes, but this kid dramatised any effect of taking your iPhone out and allowing someone to test it. Tonight, it was one of the talks of the group forming outside the arcade — aside, of course, from smoking. This time around, nearly everyone had graduated from the cigarette to some brand of flavoured cigar — and this time, my chest tightened when I came near some of the smokers, and whenever they tried to release the ash it came off in hot cinders and clouds of smoke, instead of the normal issuing streams.

Those who have read the previous Tales from the Arcade pieces will know that smoking has been a problem at the arcade. Back then, not many people, I'll admit, smoked — today, though, I saw so many smoke that many I suspected otherwise were in on it as well. One kid now had eyes so red it seemed as if he had been badly beaten up. Eventually the smoking offended two girls from northern New Jersey, and once they turned to avoid someone's explosion of ashes on the pavement, they all puffed away from them.

After my stomach began to tighten and the kids started moving to the convenience store to watch a fight, I just went home and took a shower. While Brigantine has had its share of druggies and chavs, it never occurred to me until tonight how common it was in this day and age, and how it's hardened into a social foundation. I have never smoked — I owe that to scary commercials and my participation at youth summits — and having to smell my acquaintances smoking irks me somewhat. I probably have less respect for under-age smokers — or smokers on the whole — than televangelists; anyone who engages in an act to undermine their lifespan in the name of acquaintance has little merit (no pun intended) in my book.

I wish I were Neal Boortz. He can criticise smokers on his show and feel good about it. Although I don't think it's always the case that it's the 'second time her prom dress has come off' if she's smoked during prom, but it makes a lot of sense.