Remember when you were a little kid and smoking represented the physical manifestation of everything you weren’t supposed to do? And it disgusted you? Like, you saw an adult smoking and you wanted to slap that tiny little cancer stick out of their face and give them a lecture on the importance of their lungs and their life. Dude, what happened? When did we all of sudden find them so cool looking? It can’t be a biological thing. I mean, there can’t be a biological agent that just makes us want to look cool despite how unhealthy looking cool can be, is there? Oh right, it’s called "women."

I actually think we all start smoking because we’re curious. Will it kill me? The second the smoke touches my lips, will I see rainbows and the Thundercats fighting in the sky? I had to know. I was a bit of a late bloomer. I realized that as a child of the suburbs, I needed to wait until I got my license before I engaged in any real idiotic behavior.  Because we lived in the suburbs of Detroit, whenever we needed to buy anything we weren’t supposed to, we drove into the city. (I’m not going to get into how fucked up that is socioeconomically. I'm saving that for this article I’m writing for Highlights.)

Let me set the scene for you guys. We had just finished lacrosse practice. At an all-boys’ Catholic school. Where we wore uniforms. We thought we could be like Jim Carroll, except, instead of heroin, it was cigarettes because we were pussies. There we were, rolling three deep into the gas station at the corner of 7 Mile and Wyoming. In shirts and ties. I was 16, my buddy was, like, 15 and a half (this was when half a year meant something) and the driver was 17. (He got held back in first grade because he kept calling Thomas the Tank Engine “Tomas” instead. They thought he didn’t understand phonics, but really his mom was just from Puerto Rico.) We realized we had no idea what kind of cigarettes we wanted, so we just asked for "cigarettes." Three guys asked for one pack of smokes. The clerk started dying laughing and asked to see ID. We were crushed. So instead we bought some Mountain Dew and walked back to the car defeated. On the way, a kind, and socially irresponsible, gentleman asked us if we wanted to buy "loosies." “What the fuck is a loosie?” “I dunno. Let’s just buy it and if we don’t want it, we’ll just throw it out.” “Okay word. Yeah man, we’ll take some loosies.” Four bucks later we had 4 loose cigarettes. We lit them up in a playground not too far from school. And then it hit me. WAIT. CIGARETTES TASTE LIKE MINT? WHAT IS MENTHOL? WHY DOES IT SMELL LIKE SHIT, BUT TASTE SO GOOD? WOAH. WHERE DID THIS HEADACHE COME FROM? For over a year, I thought all cigarettes were menthol.

But girls, don't smoke, it's bad for you! Plus, men will assume you’re well-traveled and have a hard-to-place European accent that really comes out when you get angry.

From then on, I haven't been that big a fan of smoking. But boy have I had an unending love for attractive women smoking cigarettes. I've only ever dated one girl who was a smoker. I mean, I've been with girls who smoked, but only rarely and a pack would last them forever. But this girl, she was a smoker. She fucking relished smoking. She liked to smoke before class, after dinner and any time in between. And I could always tell her mood by the way she exhaled the smoke.

The way she would exhale whenever I said something that ruined the moment was the absolute best ever. The smoke and her exasperated, but slightly bemused, sigh would pour out simultaneously. This combination was deadly, no pun intended.

Like one time, she paid our dinner bill while I went to the bathroom or something. I was actually touched by the gesture and she had the grin that all girls get when they realize something they've done has made you think, if even for a moment, that you're dating the best girl in the entire world. As we waited for the car, we stood toe-to-toe, smiling. I thanked her again and she kissed me. But mid-kiss I mumbled between our lips, "Just 'cause you paid for dinner doesn't mean I'm putting out tonight. This jelly ain't cheap, girl."

She stepped back, lit a cigarette and as she exhaled the slightest smirk began to creep across her face. Whenever I see a girl exhale and smile at the same time, I think of that time outside the French restaurant in Chicago. But girls, don't smoke, it's bad for you! Plus, men will assume you’re well-traveled and have a hard-to-place European accent that really comes out when you get angry.

That or you’re the asshole that insists on smoking fancy cigarettes—the kind that have French and English names and come in boxes, not 'packs.'

Now that I’m an adult and I get to travel to places like New York City for tradeshows and fashion weeks, I’ve realized just how important a smoke can be. I’m pretty sure street style photographers have special 50mm lenses that automatically take photos of the special few who have mastered the artful exhalation of a plume of smoke while walking. Just kidding. Don’t blame the photographers. Everyone at these things smokes. EVEN ME. AND I DON’T SMOKE. I want to look cool too! We all just need to admit it. You’re still like, “Gross, conformity makes my skin crawl.” And, “Trying to be cool is the antithesis of cool.” Yeah, okay. Until you stop spending time on the Internet looking for the newest expensive pair of shoes, you have no ground to stand on. That or you’re the asshole that insists on smoking fancy cigarettes—the kind that have French and English names and come in boxes, not "packs." Fuck you, man. We all know God smokes Newports.

The only real tragedy in all of this? These young style goons, who started smoking because their Boglioli looks even better shrouded in smoke, are killing themselves for Fashion. I've wept for the skinny girls running on the treadmill and only eating salad, but now I fear for these young men who started smoking only to jumpstart their burgeoning street style careers. But at what cost? AT WHAT COST? In a few years time, the shutters will stop snapping and all they'll be left with is a mean case of emphysema and last season’s Michael Bastian.