It started with Bugsy, or at least, it is the oldest memory I have of being moved by a woman smoking a cigarette. There was nothing overtly sexual about Annette Bening smoking, but somehow, the image haunted me, for days and weeks to come. A year later came the Guns N’ Roses’ November Rain video, and a smoking Stephanie Seymour. In the old days, you couldn’t google shit like “why the fuck is a woman smoking a cigarette bothering me”… Best thing to do was to videotape November Rain and play it. On repeat.
Around the same time, I met J. She was a fellow lifeguard, an Art History student, and a smoker. We had supper one night, moved in together, and shared our lives for a little over three years. One night, we’re having a party. Everyone is smoking but me – Le Clown doesn’t do cigarettes. The next morning, J tells me: “You had a dumb look on your face while I was smoking last night, I think you might have a smoking fetish” [In my defense, I remember looking magnificent, and when I glanced over J's way, I showed her my best, ravishing smile]. So it had a name, and it wasn’t the title of a G N’ R song…
It’s a terrible reference, but it’s only when I started watching Criminal Minds that I realized that my smoking fetish [aka capnolagnia] could be profiled. I have friends who can tell you in which movie such an actress can be seen naked [I use "friends" very loosely - they are more like third cousins of a neighbour, in Burkina Faso]… I can tell you in which movies you will see any actress smoke, even the ones I snub, like the Julia Roberts of this world. It took me years, and two seasons of Criminal Minds [with Mandy Patinkin thank you] - to understand how specific a fetish can be. My unsub reads as follow:
- Real smokers only, fakers never made the cut;
- Just cigarettes, and not the long and thin ones;
- No cigars; no joints, no pipes;
- No American or French cigarettes;
- No smoke rings;
- Only brown filter cigarettes will titillate the fetish;
- No menthol cigarettes – just the god-awful smell of 100% cancerous tobacco;
- If an ashtray is used, it must be empty and clean;
- When lit, a lighter must be used – no matches.
With the years, the fetish got more specific: everything pertaining to inhaling and exhaling - from the pace of a drag to the density of the smoke exhaled – certain brands of cigarettes were preferred, and when it comes to smokers, Le Clown has been known to appreciate the neurotic beauties of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Catherine Keener and Rebecca Hall (to use celebrities as examples) over the wholesome grace of Gwyneth Paltrow.
I’ve essentially dated smokers, and when I didn’t, I have regretted it. When my son’s mother and I separated and I decided to date again, I opted for the online route. I completed my profile and made it clear: “Magnificent Le Clown is looking for someone as magnificent, and preferably a smoker (or ex-smoker)”. I was exclusively browsing at (ex)smokers’ profiles when I met The Ringmistress. Interesting, wouldn’t you say? Being a smoker was more important than being kind and generous – which is overrated anyway.
I am a non-smoker, and a woman smoking (or anyone else) in a day-to-day context will do nothing to Le Clown… It’s even a habit I have found to be foul. However, when all the specifics meet, I’ll be mesmerized, and enthralled by a single cigarette. Why? Is it the bad girl / good girl dichotomy? Is it because seeing a woman exhale gives me a visual of her essence? Come on, Freud… Tell me!