I guess working and living are synonymous with each other. Some people work his ass off for a living; while others living is working (kerja untuk hidup atau hidup untuk kerja). I prefer to be in the first category where working is only to maintain a good living. Sometime I drag myself to the office. Not that I hate my job but the idea of working and endless paperwork plus the boss keeping an eye on you really make me sick. How long do I have to do this ?why can’t life be easy and simple ? well it used to when we were kids…right?! Nothing to worry about, no deadlines, no class to attend and what not. But then we could not wait to grow up and be adults and do what adults do…smoking for example. It was so cool to smoke when you were 17 or 18. I started smoking during the long break after SPM. I would go to my mate’s house ,bought a couple of marlboros from kedai kopi and spent the afternoon puffing away with him.
Once we were passing a group of guys hanging around the “wakaf” (the coolest place to lepak in my kampung). I approached one of them and asked if I could light up my cigarette with his cigarette. It’s a bit tricky to light this way. You have to put the two heads together and try to burn yours while keeping his head intact…smokers will know this. I did not do it properly and his cigarette’s head fell off. I was so embarrassed that I still remember that incident until today. I was trying too hard to be one of the guys; acting with cigarettes and all but…it did not go very well I supposed. But why do people (especially the men!) keep smoking ?First of all this writing does not promote smoking but to look at some reasons on why people especially men keep the habit of smoking. Despite the campaign of anti- smoking we do see people puffing around oblivious to the impact it might do to their health and environment. Let’s pause for a moment the aggressive campaign and ponder the real reasons why people smoke. The idea is that when we understand the underlying motivation that drives these people to keep on their habit, we can take more effective steps to deal with the situation. It worked for me, so I hope it will shed a light for others as well. I started smoking when I was seventeen or so and kept on lighting the cigarettes for another eight years. I quit in 1990 and still struggling to keep away from the smoke until today; ninteen years later. The urge is still there after every meal. As a man who used to smoke at least a pack a day, I would list the following reasons for smoking :
1. Smoking is the “men thing”. People who attracted to smoking is attracted to this “men thing”. We see women who smoke are attracted to ‘ men thing”. We bump into children who smoke and they are attracted to this “men thing”. So what is this “men thing” ? It is a power within one self. The power to attract friends; control people and signify the presence. Men tend to socialize in groups; being in a group is a social tag saying that you are okay and not from mars. We get together and smoke.
2. At home, men smoke to flag a need for privacy. Daddy wants sometime alone now, could you go and watch TV or something. So daddy would pick his favorite corner in the garden or by the verandah to puff the night away. Nothing matters anymore it’s me and my cigarettes. The hormones will get settled, emotions restored and he will get back to the family and act like a good father the society approves. A good wife would understand this and give some space. It’s not easy to realize that a husband also needs a space to activate his “men thing”. Some women would object the habit for so many reasons but never realize the emotional needs that some men are struggling to cope.
3. Men like to have a “play thing” with him all the time. Some people cannot move a round without a hand phone or PDA. Some would be “patah kaki” without a car. A man with nothing on him would be like a soldier without arms. He has to have a reason to approach another guy for a companion even while waiting in a queue to pay the bill. We have to talk to someone or do something on the phone …it’s the “men thing”. So the most practical tools here are a lighter and a pack of cigarettes. With most premises ban smoking, the place to exercise such social needs are very limited.
4. The image of real men. Image to a man is like a mane to a lion. It shows who is in charge. Every man will pose an image that he will be comfortable the most. Whether we like it or not, an image of a man with a cigarette is hot and macho. James Dean or Marlon Brando, for example, weren’t they so “macho and manly” ? ( and dead as well….hmmmmm that tells something else ain’t it.) Don’t we all miss the big-ass advertisement with a man and his beautiful lady biting a cigarette butt!. Yes those were the days.
5. A quick fix to stress. Life as a man is stressful; not that I know how is it to a woman. But the demand that society put on a man’s shoulder is sometime unbearable. A man is supposed to do this and that which are things if not hard must be heavier or riskier. I guess it is natural for a man to be tough or stupid enough to act like a tough guy. At the end of the day, man has got to do what a man has to do. But a man is also human; and if he could not do it he would take refuge to compose himself. This is where most men choose to puff away the stress. We would see most men chose to smoke to clear the head or revitalize the tired body and minds.
6. label territory. Just like in the animal kingdom where a lion or a tiger would go around and label his hunting ground, men would do the same with a cigarette. When a cigarette is lit up, the smoke will signal a ceremony has begun. This guy is sending a message to the mass that this is his territory, he is a man and ready to play his role.
7. To attract women. It is natural for a man to flirt with a beautiful lady whether he is single or not. Unless he is gay, a man needs a woman in his life for companionship or sexual relationship. And if a man with a smoking cigarette is not hot enough for a lady, nothing would. A genuine lady would see in him a burning manhood ready for action.
8. actively living his life. Another perspective is that, a man who smokes is someone active and living. He has the money and time to enjoy whatever he is doing and smoking would signify this opportunities.
But, what about destroying health and environment ? well, death and destruction are inevitable; it will come sooner or later.