Last week I received my tax refund check, much to my delight. Large sums of money showing up in the mail for my personal benefit have a tendency to make me giddy for some strange reason. While throwing wads of cash here and there this past week I was reminded of my first refund check in Chicago. I had even written a journal entry about it, and that is what I'm sharing with you starting....now.
After a night of heavy drinking with Rolling Thunder I went to Hell today. A big boss is coming tomorrow so we had to stay until at least 10:30 recovering. In the midst of closing Irish McDrunky stopped by with Mike, a bartender from O'Neils, to flip me off and indicate through subtle sign language that I should join them for a drink.
What followed was various varieties of spirits. I was somewhat snookered but Irish was gone, as he had been drinking for roughly 8 hours. His stagger was impressive, his speech only half intelligible and restraint practically nonexistent. While walking to the Red Line a homeless man with one eye approached and Irish flatly said "I'm a Republican. I pretend that you don't even exist." I thought this particularly humorous, even if he relived it 5 times afterward.
On the train we sat and chatted a bit, then he got off at Belmont. This girl came in, hands shaking, gaunt faced with a blank wide-eyed expression as she openly looked at me. As we began to move she pulled out a packet of Kite tobacco with rolling papers. She proceeded to roll 5 cigarettes within 4 or 5 stops. I simply stared in amazement as I had never seen someone hand roll anything. She tucked the last one behind her ear as we pulled into her stop, and when she left she left the packet.
I'm trying to quit smoking and haven't bought any cigarettes for around a week and hadn't smoked any for 2 days. Feeling the craving I snatched what I saw as free tobacco on my way out of the train car. When I got home I checked my mail and praise God, my refund check had arrived!
Craving a celebratory portion of substance and not having alcohol I decided to hand roll my first cigarettes. However, on inspecting the pouch I found there were no more papers. What to do? I looked down at the counter and saw an empty package of gum. The empty pack had spewed out some slips of the white paper that is wrapped around the sticks of gum, outside the foil. I determined these white slips were good enough.
Having never rolled joints myself all I had to go on was mimicking the girl on the train and Johnny Depp interviews. I sprinkled some tobacco, folded over one side of the flap and tried to make a cigarette. Due to the paper's thickness and formally folded state the tube had angled sides instead of a clearly cylindrical form. I licked the sided of the remaining flap, trying to glue it down with my saliva, even though there was no adhesive strip on the paper like you would find on actual rolling papers. It barely worked but at least I had something. The sorriest looking cigarette ever.
I went outside to smoke it. I puffed on my hand fashioned monstrosity, noting the flavor of mentholated tobacco...and burning paper with just a hint of sophisticated watermelon (the gum flavor). The aftertaste was bitter and towards the end the smoke burned my throat and mouth.
Just stopping and actually thinking about what I was doing made me realize how sad and pathetic it really was. So I made one more then went to bed.