I’m pretty obnoxious and annoying sometimes. I can be far too loud in some situations, and far too quiet in others. Sometimes I sit nervously in a corner checking my phone because I’m too shy to introduce myself. At other times, I drink a couple of pints in rapid succession to calm my nerves and end up saying things I wouldn’t say if I was sober. Both of these traits, along with many others, have caused me to miss out on opportunities to get laid. But none more so than one thing: smoking.
I smoke. And I kind of want to add ‘too much’ to that, but realistically smoking at all is usually too much when seen through the eyes of a non-smoker. When I was dating, the sheer number of people who’d write ‘I can’t stand smokers’ on their dating profiles, or tick the boxes that say ‘smoking is a dealbreaker’ means my pool of potential shag buddies was severely limited.
But smoking has also helped me get laid. Not because men see me across a crowded beer garden and go ‘oh look, her who’s too pissed to light the right end: she’s the one for me’, but because for the best part of my formative years, smoking was considered cool.
Which means that I have a really fucked up relationship with smoking and sex.
I fancy guys who roll their own cigarettes – the delicate, precise movements of their fingers and the gentle licks as they moisten the paper. I fancy guys who offer me a light – holding it out to me and looking hard into my eyes, as I touch the end of the cigarette to the flame. I fancy guys who smell like fags and whiskey – the combination of flavours which, to me, smell like a night out – the kind of evening that ends with a fumble on the night bus and a good, hard fuck.
There’s also something about standing alone outside a bar, cigarette in one hand. Before we had phones (and believe it or not, young people, there was a time when we really didn’t) there was nothing to occupy your hands when you waited for someone. The smoking ban’s done wonders to get people smoking less – freezing, drizzling British January is no season to be a ‘cool’ smoker – but I think smartphones have done wonders too. I can hold my phone like a talisman against looking alone, in the same way I used to slowly extract, tap, and light a cigarette. Well, in almost the same way, at any rate.
The world of smoking fetishes
A while ago I watched a documentary about cam girls – one of whom explained that some of her regular clients go to her for the smoking. They liked to watch as she put a cigarette between her lips, inhaled, exhaled slowly so they could watch the tendrils of smoke slowly escape her mouth. They liked to see her play with the cigarette, rolling it back and forth in her fingers before she took a drag.
Not only can I see why they like this, I can empathise. Guys who smoke are hot to me in a way that I struggle to explain. There are some people who’ll tell you that smokers project a kind of ‘devil may care’ attitude – a casual ‘fuck you’ to people who’d tell them what to do that’s incredibly hot, but I think that’s bollocks. Smokers are often the least casual, laid-back people in the world – just ask us how chilled we are when we’ve one fag left and no way of getting more till the shops open tomorrow morning.
If pressed, I’d say it’s a sensual thing. The sight of a dude rolling, smoking, cupping his hand round a cigarette in just the right way, draws attention to his hands – a visual cue that points to a part of his body that I obsess over. In the same way as quick typing or wearing a good, chunky watch, smoking highlights the movement of his hands, and hands are sexy as fuck. Beyond the visuals, the smell of someone lighting up reminds me of evenings spent laughing, touching, fucking in between post-coital cigarettes. Combine it now with the taboo – the fact that smoking is Bad and Wrong and Naughty As Fuck? Yeah, I can see why people have smoking fetishes.
What’s more, I have to admit that I’m fucking delighted that people do. Not that I want everyone to smoke, of course – I’d be pretty happy if no one (including me) had ever felt the desire to. But something which I’ve been repeatedly told makes me disgusting and horrible being not just accepted, but actively embraced as erotic? I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that feels pretty good.
Smoking is Bad, OK?
And yet, as I’m sure some people will point out in the comments, smoking causes cancer (and a whole bunch of other diseases). People who smoke should quit. I should, as I remind myself once every month, quit. Smoking is not just bad for you, it’s unattractive to a huge swathe of the population. For every person with a smoking fetish, who wants to watch you tap, light, inhale, and exhale, there are fifty others who’ll make snide comments as you sneak outside for a quick one, and tut and cough when you come back inside.
Once a guy I loved told me I tasted nice when I kissed him. Not all the time: just once. A single afternoon, during one of my many attempts to quit smoking, we had a long, deep, horny snog – the kind you have when you’re fifteen and you’ve only just discovered snogging. He told me:
“That was hot. You tasted good. You tasted like a kiss should taste.”
A different guy, a long time later, held a light out for me and looked deep into my eyes as I inhaled.
“You’re so fucking hot,” he told me, and I returned the favour – watching him slowly lift his fingers to his lips as he took a drag himself.
So what am I saying? Smoking is sexy? Or smoking is bad? Smoking gets you laid? Or smoking stops you from getting laid? Well, fuck it – sometimes people email me going ‘oh what I love about you is your HONESTY’ so here’s what I really think: smoking is, and does, all of these things. Which isn’t to say that these things are all equal. Smoking is one of very few things which give me serious guilt, guilt which no amount of hedonistic lust will suppress.
Sometimes when we fuck we embrace that weird cognitive dissonance that says ‘this thing is bad, but this thing is also sexy.’ A lot of the fucks I have involve doing or fantasising about things I know are dodgy in contexts other than hot ones. I want to be degraded in ways I’d reject outside of the bedroom. I have fantasies in which I’m hurt in ways I wouldn’t want to be in reality. With all of these things, I can fully embrace the act itself and understand that it doesn’t have to have an impact beyond that one wank, or fuck, or horny fantasy that I use to pass the time on the night bus. I can wholeheartedly embrace the hotness of something that I’ll simultaneously condemn.
Smoking is the only one for which I can’t.