Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mary Worth 2610

Enjoy: 19
Good: 18
Love: 11
Nice: 7

One thing's for sure... this story is changing my opinion about smoking.

You have to understand, throughout my life, I have been a huge hater of tobacco. First, I never knew my maternal grandparents because tobacco killed them. But there were other influences in my life. My father taught high school, and his classroom posters made a big impression when I was a child: "Smoking stinks," "Don't be a butt head," and especially "Kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray."

Then there was the demonstration we had in sixth grade: A health worker brought in a mannequin head and torso that was open in the back so you could see a large pickle jar full of golden blonde hair representing the dummy's lungs. A tube with a pump connected the jar to the dummy's mouth. The worker put a cigarette in the mouth and lit it. With one squeeze of the pump, all that golden blonde hair (bronchi) instantly turned black.

I worked my way through college with Dr. David P.L. Sachs at the Palo Alto Center for Pulmonary Disease Prevention and Smoking Cessation Medical Group. I answered phones. "Thank you for calling the Palo Alto Center for Pulmonary Disease Prevention and Smoking Cessation Medical Group. How may I... hello, are you still there?"

In the year 2000, I started working for World Wildlife Fund in Washington D.C. to help finish a major fundraising campaign. Shortly after I started, they wanted to honor their emeritus chairman with a huge birthday party at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. I was startled to learn it was for Joseph Cullman, III, who had led Philip Morris as Chairman and CEO through the 1960's and 1970's when science knew all about the dangers of tobacco, and who was still very active in the company. This was the guy who invented the Marlboro man (or at least paid an advertising agency to invent it for him) and lied to Congress repeatedly about the health dangers of smoking.

In a planning meeting for Cullman's party, I looked at my very patient boss Rachel and said, "We all realize that this guy is the corporate equivalent of Adolph Hitler, right, with the blood of millions of people on his hands, right?" There was some foot shuffling under the desk and after the meeting Rachel told me, "You don't have to participate in the event." A few weeks later, though, it turned out that they needed a stage manager, and with my theatre background, they asked me to come anyway. Curious to see what the devil looked like, I went. Turned out he was just a silly old man who loved being praised by 300 people celebrating his birthday. He was pathetic. Also, I didn't work for WWF for very long after that.

So, clearly I hate the tobacco industry and all it stands for. And yet, last night at Walgreens, I saw a display like the one below and thought, "Those cigarette boxes are really cool. I'd love to buy a pack." Karen Moy, if I take up smoking and die of lung cancer, my family is going to sue.


Wanders said...

A side note: The funniest thing at Cullman's party was that somebody thought they had hired dancers from the musical Cats to perform. As we were setting up that day, about six young women in trashy leotards and cheap cat masks and ears showed up. They were exotic dancers. I said to Rachel, "They aren't from Cats." They were paid, but they were sent away pretty quick.

Anonymous said...

Derek the Dummy's thought balloon: DAMN, how did she ever figure that out?

-- Scottie McW.

Nance said...

Today's Boldface Haiku is titled "I Hate Nagging More Than Smoking, So Pretty Soon Even Cheating Gets A Pass From Me".

Enjoy smoke?
I didn't...
Lie! Smell!

Wanders, good story and good point. KM has managed to muddle every 'message' she has ostensibly tried to convey.

Delilah said...

I have a brilliant, well-traveled cousin who was, when graduating high school with high honors, offered a full scholarship for not just a four-year degree, but a doctorate in the college of his choice from Phillip Morris. He turned it down, saying he would have blood on his hands for the rest of his life if he accepted. Later, he worked with Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity. He now travels the globe working for the - wait for it! - chocolate/cocoa industry. Way to go, Timothy! Some times good DOES triumph over evil. And is rewarded with chocolate.

Toots McGee said...

C'mon Derek. You really thought your own balcony was a safe place to sneak a smoke? (Also, looking back at yesterday's strip, that balcony either wrapped around, which would make that one swanky suite, or they booked a cabin that opened out onto a common deck of the ship. That would be unnerving to have other Cruisers strolling past your huge sliding doors all day and night.)

Seriously, head down to the casino to smoke, dude. Everybody who spends fifteen minutes in there comes out reeking of smoke. It's the perfect cover, unless you have a gambling addiction that also concerns Katie.

I have a complicated relationship with cigarettes. I certainly saw the ill effects of tobacco play out with family members. I still couldn't resist the whole "social smoking" thing. I get around people smoking and I want one. (Usually alcohol is involved too, weakening inhibitions against behaving stupidly). I feel very fortunate that I lack the addictive trait that contributes to a full blown habit. But I know empirically that the older I get, the less proficient my body will be at repairing damage, so I like to think that I've smoked my last cigarette.

Getting back to Mary Worth, it seems that this cruise is going to conclude soon. Is Derek's smoking the whole centerpiece of this story? Was Esme just a colorful distraction?

fauxprof said...

Of course you can smell it on him, Katie! Heck, a non-smoker can smell it on a total stranger in the grocery store. However, nagging does not work; no one can make Derek quit except Derek.

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way as you, Wanders! I hate smoking with a passion, having watched a family member die from lung cancer -- believe me, not a good way to go. But day after day of Derek moaning "I need a cigarette" is starting to give me nicotine cravings.


Anonymous said...

The moral compass of Karen Moy: drinking - bad, student dating professor - good, internet purchases - bad, enabling lazy son - good, texting on phones - bad, keeping suitor (Jeff) at arms length - good, Vicodin - bad, parents ignoring 10-year-old daughter - good, smoking - bad, and the list goes on and on and on - and that's what entertains us all.

Darth Curt said...

I am not a fan of smoking, though I don't know anyone personally who has died from it. However, back in the 80s, I would go to the local Arcade and Billiard Hall to spend my money. Smoking was allowed in that dark dungeon of a place. I spent a lot of time and quarters there. And now, whenever I pass someone that has that stale cigarette smell on them, I get a feeling of nostalgia for Bubble Bobble and Wonder Boy. It's been 30 years and for some silly crazy reason... I kind of get a bit of a happy feeling when I smell that terrible, terrible stank.

KitKat said...

Wanders, thanks for sharing your fascinating story with us. You may be Blog Boy in KM's eyes (ha ha), but you are Thoughtful Man to your faithful readers.

Derek's been sneaking smokes for days but Katie only notices when she sees smoking? The Hoosiers' relationship is dysfunctional with a capital D, which makes it simply typical for KM [sigh].

Peggy Olson said...

Wanders, I'm glad to see the WWF panda doesn't have a cigarette in its mouth! Also, it would have been great to see those exotic cats walk on the stage. Maybe they're in Esme's next show.

Regina Wolfe-Parks said...

@ anonymous 10:14, one more thing in the "good" column-emotional cheating (and sneaking smokes) with third rate cruise ship entertainer.

Great story Wanders. I hate smoking as well, as I grew up with two parents that smoked like chimneys and would fall asleep with lit cigarettes in their hands. I was always afraid that we'd all go down in flames. To this day, I can't stand the smell of cigarette smoke and being an asthmatic, I avoid it. (Surprisingly, I became an asthmatic when I was an adult. You would think from all those fumes I smelled growing up, I would have had it then!)

Anyway, Katie, aside from being a shrew, is the most clueless person alive. Derek's been smoking non stop with 3E and she's just getting around to noticing him smelling like cigarette smoke? I wish she was real so I could punch some sense into her.

LouiseF said...

And I thought cruises were supposed to mend relationships...Must confess, I kind of like this story. It's the "Anti-Love Boat", complement to that smarmy, 1970's confection at sea.

MissScarlet said...

Wanders, I love your stories and especially the Brooke Shields poster. I'd forgotten about that one.

Dave in Parma said...

(Derek, as voiced by Keanu Reeves, punctuation added to aid with the Reeves dialect)....

"Kate?! What...are YOU...doing!"

(why in the world is he so shocked to find his wife in his cabin, and if that's not their cabn, why is she wearing that bathrobe-like outfit?)

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I am leaving a comment, but this is such a guilty pleasure ... could the "Entertainer Esme" be a nicotine withdrawal figment of poor Derek's imagination? Esme didn't lock his wife in a bathroom ... he did! Esme isn't real, as the last panels prove!! And as for everything else that happened, ala Inception, unbeknownst to Derek, his wife paid Mary Worth 10K to "meddle" in a cyber world of her own making to make him kick the habit ... by drawing him into the most banal mindf#&k of all time (outside of Inception) ... oh; and he's not really married; and Derek really isn't Derek ... Derek, is Ian!!! That's why Toby is along for the ride ... she wants Ian to really suffer two-fold ... "I didn't just catch you watching internet porn, I followed Mary into a dreamworld I created to watch you pretend to be both muscular, handsome, and worthy of a more intriguing 3rd rate 'ingenue's attention ... enjoy the trinkets I bought you in my imagination, you rat-bastard ... I'm hoping for too much, right?

Sandi Ego said...

Great story, Wanders! Cats dancers, lol.
My dad couldn't quit his 4-pack a day habit, even when told his 13 yr old daughter (me) was allergic to smoke. He died of lung cancer when I was 28 and my first child was just 1. My 3 kids never knew him. My mom smoked for a long time, gave it up for many years, started again then quit for good when she was in her 50s. She's now 92! Smoking is a powerful addiction - but right now I"m wondering what Anonymous ^^^^ is smoking!!