Last year I only managed two sightings from malls that were worthy of year-end acclaim on my blog, and was coming to terms with the likelihood that mall sightings might be a dying breed, with challenging logistics, declining smoking prevalence among young ladies, and a shyness among the young ladies who do smoke to smoke publicly, all contributing to smaller lists moving forward. All of those things may yet be true long-term but at least in 2016, you’d never have known it. I managed five outstanding mall sightings, including a couple poised to become all-time favorites, managing photos from two of the sightings that I’ll soon post on my Tumblr gallery. One of these sightings was an encore from last year and the rest are all new girls…..
#5. Over the course of an unseasonably warm mid-February afternoon, I kept taking note of a group of late teen girls hanging out in the general area around the food court. On the first two occasions crossing paths with them I approached the marquee girl of the group from the rear and saw this sexpot light brunette in a bare midriff tanktop and tight jeans, with a good eight inches of exposed midriff. It was the closest thing to a genuine summertime outfit I had seen so far in 2016 and my eyes were glued to her ass when I walked past. The second time I walked past, about a half hour later, she was seated on a bench and I was able to see her maroon panties jutting above her belt line, and she didn’t seem the least bit self-conscious that she was showing them off. But it was the next time I ran into her–without even immediately noticing it was her–that she really captured my attention in a more sustained way…
I was approaching the main mall entrance on the south side of the mall near the movie theater. A cluster of male and female teens were seated on a bench and I could see cigarettes were being smoked and quickly discerned that a beautiful brunette seated right in the middle of the group was smoking a cigarette. You don’t see a lot of beautiful teen smokers these days so I was elated, especially since I was able to claim a bench only a few yards away and could sneak some stealth pics as she smoked. I really only got one good pic because one of the guys in the group kept hovering in front of her and obstructing my shot when I tried to capture her in mid-drag. Of course this prevented me from evaluating the quality of her performance as well, although what little I did see of her smoking was impressive, especially in such close proximity to nonsmoking friends. I surveyed the group and noticed that only the teen brunette and one of the guys in this group of six were smoking. Not much time went by before the brunette smoker tossed her cork filter cigarette to the pavement. My first thought on was scoring a butt ID, but I was sidetracked quickly when she stood up and I saw something I had missed when she was sitting. She was the girl in the bare midriff top and tight jeans who I had twice lusted over inside the mall earlier that afternoon. As I checked out that ass with the pack of cigarettes stuffed into the left back pocket of her jeans and watched the way she carried herself going back into the mall, it became clear that I had seen this girl even before that day. She was the brunette American Spirits girl from several months earlier who was my favorite mall sighting of 2015! She was back!
I hustled on over to the bench she just vacated and checked out her discarded butt. It was a cork filter L & M, an odd choice for a girl her age and suggests she must be a pretty heavy smoker looking to save a few nickels and dimes by buying generics. But what happened to her American Spirits from four months earlier? Seems like an unlikely brand switch on the surface but I wasn’t about to quibble over brands when it came to a girl this gorgeous and sexy who was very clearly a pretty heavy smoker. I boogied on into the mall to catch up with her and found her quickly. I was 98% sure as she walked into the mall that it was the same hottie from October 2015 but was 100% now as I watched the way she carried herself from upclose and noticed how she flirted so shamelessly with the guys in her group. And then there was that ass! I had to be discreet as I walked past but got a close look at her gorgeous face for the final confirmation. Absolutely heartwarming that girls like her are still smoking in the year 2016.
It was towards the end of my day at the mall when I saw that and was wrapping up the day driving a few laps around the mall as I usually do. Since I had just seen the brunette smoking I didn’t figure I’d see her again, so imagine my surprise when I saw her with her group of friends only about a half hour later walking out of the mall and heading in the direction of the pond where I saw her smoking twice back in October. She wasn’t smoking at the time but the guy friend with her was, and I knew that she likely would light up again once she got to the walkway surrounding the pond, even though smoking was forbidden in the area. I turned my car around and went down a street in front a line of restaurants outside the mall adjacent to the walkway around the pond and was lucky enough to spot her and her group between two restaurants. I found a parking spot and approached the area they were heading, being as discreet as possible given that she had seen me earlier that day and almost assuredly remembered me from October as well.
They were standing on the dock watching the geese on the still frozen pond…..and by now my bare-midriffed hottie was definitely smoking. And she was distracted enough that I could watch from a reasonably close distance and finally see how impressive her smoking style was, as she attended to the cigarette at a nice pace and released exceptional exhales that sailed a good 18 inches in front of her face like Cupid’s arrows fired at my heart. I got to see four of these wonderful exhales before turning to the side and claiming a bench that seemed likely to be off her radar. I watched as she polished off the cigarette and tossed the butt to the pavement, continuing to hover with the group of friends for a few more minutes as I sat on the bench.
I observed as the guys separated from the girls but had an “oh shit” moment when the three girls started walking my obscure direction. I didn’t want to be called out for stalking her and had really pushed the limits between last October and today. She made eye contact with me as she walked by with an air of familiarity on her face but didn’t say anything. Clearly I need to cool it with this girl moving forward but it won’t be easy as she’s pretty close to the sexiest teen smoker in Iowa and since I’ve seen her twice at this mall in four months chances are I will see her again. I was able to see in the moments ahead that they separated from the guys because the guys were picking up the truck. They drove up to where the girls were standing and the girls filed inside, with my sexy bare-midriffed brunette likely still reeking of smoke and filling up the interior of the truck with her stench.
#4. Arguably the worst week on the calendar for me every year is the week after Labor Day, with fair sightings season over and a return to my traditional bleak sightings landscape. But the one upside is that I can return to the malls on Saturday afternoons for whatever sightings they have to offer, and on the second Saturday of September in 2016, I had a surprisingly strong haul. Far and away the day’s biggest star emerged as I was making my final walking loop around the mall around 3:30. Turning a corner and walking towards me was this very attractive 21ish light brunette with long curly locks highlighted with blond streaks running all the way down her back with cigarette in hand. Most striking was her outfit though, as this cutie was wearing a short black cocktail dress. It was such an odd sight at the mall and I wondered if she was a store employee dressed this way and simply out on a break, a theory that would eventually bear fruit.
What a striking image of this nicely dressed young cutie wielding a cigarette and dragging from it shamelessly as she walked towards me and one of the main mall entrances. She never really made eye contact with me but after we crossed paths I turned around and followed from a reasonable distance, admiring the frequency of her drags and the steady stream of toxic, smelly blasts flowing my direction after emerging from her pretty face. Even though I’d have enjoyed a slightly longer sighting, she ended it with flair taking a final double-pump drag and then obnoxiously tossing the cigarette into the shrubbery to her right as she got closer to the mall entrance. The smoldering blond butt had the telltale markings of a Camel Turkish Royal left there to stink up the area for a few minutes and upset others walking towards the mall.
This 60-second moment was by itself the best moment of my day thus far, but I was just getting warmed up as I then took to my car to drive laps around the mall as I do after a few hours of lapping the mall, and damn if I didn’t get the timing right here too. As I lapped the mall, there she was, the curly-haired brunette beauty in the black cocktail dress sitting at a bench outside the Dillard’s department store where I frequently see employees out smoking. At the moment, she was sitting there attending to her phone and eating some snacks, but I knew there was another reason she was sitting on this bench and that patience would be a virtue. I found a close parking spot overlooking the bench and just took it easy for a few minutes before getting my reward as she removed a cigarette from the pack in her bag and briefly dangled it from her lovely lips, sparking it up and bringing it to life. Obviously I’d have preferred an even closer vantage point but I still got to see everything and it was a wonderful show with very nicely paced drags and solid exhales from such a pretty face on such a well-dressed professional-looking girl. It was a great five-minute show and she ended it as beautifully as she ended the earlier show, tossing the butt carelessly and piggishly to her side and just letting it smolder, my favorite way for a girl to dispose of her cigarette. She got up in less than a minute and, as expected, approached the employee entrance at the rear of Dillard’s.
It was my cue to approach the now-empty bench and check out the pollution she left behind. Right away I spotted a Camel Turkish Royal left to smolder out but a second later I noticed ANOTHER Camel Turkish Royal inches away from it that was still smoldering, the cigarette she had just tossed. Between these two and the one I watched her smoke while walking, the evidence was in that this was a three-cigarette lunch break for her. It was joyous reconciling the face and image of this girl being such a badly mannered heavy smoker. It wasn’t like being at the Minnesota State Fair, but at least for a few moments that afternoon, I wasn’t missing the summer that just ended.
When I returned to this mall a few Saturdays later, my radar was high for this girl. I walked through Dillard’s and saw they had a cosmetology department where I was able to discern from the other girls’ outfits that my girl worked here, although I didn’t see her there that day. But when it opened up with no others around, I had to evaluate the smoking area from where I saw the great show a few weeks earlier. I counted no fewer than 20 Camel Turkish Royal butts scattered about the general area, meaning it was clear that this girl took frequent smoke breaks and that it should only be a matter of time till I saw her on another multiple-cigarette break one Saturday at this mall. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened in the months since. In fact, my evaluation of the smoking area by Dillard’s has turned up next to no Camel Turkish Royal butts since early October, suggesting she’s no longer employed there. Much as I’d have loved her being a regular fixture on my mall sightings tours, she sure delivered the one day I was there to see her.
#3. At some point in the later months of 2015 I was wrapping up my day driving laps around central Iowa’s most upscale mall and happened upon a beautiful mid-20s dark brunette on the final couple of drags of an all-white cigarette as she stood near a bench in one of the mall’s de facto smoking areas outside. I slowed way down as I got close and was dazzled by the volume of smoke pouring out of her face on her impressive final exhale before she walked back towards the mall. The way she was dressed indicated to me that she was probably a mall worker on a smoke break. I certainly had a worthy appetizer from a hall of fame caliber girl but was disgruntled that day that I only got to see a couple of drags. Thankfully, it would only take a couple of months to turn that appetizer into a meal as the calendar flipped to 2016…
I walked through the northwest entrance to the mall one late January afternoon heading for the escalator but before I got there I saw the approaching image of a brunette beauty walking my direction who appeared to be wielding a cigarette between her fingers while walking through the mall. I figured it had to be a mirage of sorts as she was a good 50 yards from the mall entrance and hardly anybody walks around indoors with the cigarette they plan to light when they get outside anymore. Nonetheless, I kept walking her way to find out for sure. As I got closer, my original suspicion was vindicated as this gorgeous brunette with very dark facial features and long dark hair flowing down her back was indeed walking towards the nearest entrance with unlit cigarette in hand. I was about to get my first blog-worthy sighting of 2016!
I turned around and followed her towards the exit, admiring her shapely body decked out in a black blazer and dark blue jeans. She was clearly a mall employee on a smoke break and an air of familiarity about her hit me the instant I laid eyes on her style. It took a few minutes before I realized it was the girl I saw a couple months earlier finishing off a cigarette while driving laps around the mall. And it was her smoking technique that helped me connect those dots once we got outside. Almost immediately after stepping outdoors, she lit her cigarette, briefly hovering in front of the entrance for a few moments before sitting on the nearest bench. The good news for me is that there’s another bench on the opposite side of the entrance where I was able to sit and watch the show. The bad news is that a couple of those goofy black fence posts (not sure how else to describe them) were poking out of the ground directly in my line of vision. I was able to see around them, but photo-taking was a huge challenge. I managed a couple of modest ones where I was barely able to make her out but quickly gave up and just watched the show, and what a show it was….
She sat there indulging in her cigarette with very rapid drags, making me wonder if her fast-paced consumption was simply because her break time was brief or if her nicotine fix was just that severe. And while her quickly paced drags were nice, it was her exhales that really blew my mind. Her gorgeous face was like an incense container, belching out gargantuan volumes of thick cigarette smoke through her pursed lips seconds after the drag. But most impressive is that she never got all the smoke out of her lungs on that first drag….not by a long shot. A moment or two after the first giant exhale she would get extra playful and release the smoke that was left through smoke rings. About two-thirds through her cigarette she provided me the best visual carnival of her performance when, after one of her strong drags, a typically massive blast of smoke flowed from her mouth, was followed by a couple of cutesy smoke rings, and then STILL required a finishing exhale that produced nearly as much smoke volume as the first exhale! How the hell much smoke can one girl contain in her black lungs?!?!?
Most striking about this imagery was the wholesome beauty of this girl’s face, with features so dark I wondered if she had a little Middle Eastern heritage in her. In no way did she look like a smoker, so the fact that she turned out to be the human steam engine that she was really made for a party for the eyes. The twinkle in her eyes gleamed even brighter in the moments where a number of young kids walked past her with their parents into the mall, presumably through the endless haze of smoke she kept exhaling in front of her. She never went into full biological clock-ticking mode but her face still perked up seeing the playful young children in front of her as she mutilated her cigarette. The cigarette went quickly given the frequency of her drags and I cringed when she stood up to deposit the butt into one of those God-forsaken smoker’s poles that this mall installed a few months earlier, assuring that I’ll be denied many a brand ID’s moving forward. I managed a decent snapshot of her walking back into the mall and then followed, hoping to see which store she’d go into. But it turned out even better than I hoped as she didn’t walk into a store at all….
Instead she came to a stop at this kiosk in the center of the mall. She was a vendor peddling some sort of nail care cream right there in the hallway, meaning she’d be easy to keep to tabs on. I watched her immediately open her drawer and take out a piece of gum to disguise her ciggy breath, and moments later she went back to peddling nail care cream to people walking by. It was so cute seeing her gorgeous face as she went into salesgirl mode, beckoning females as they walked by for whatever nail care product she was peddling and undoubtedly still reeking of smoke for several minutes after her return. Luckier yet for me there was a bench on one side of her kiosk and I kept snapping stealth pics until I got a great upclose frontal pic of her to immortalize her forever even if I never see her out smoking again, which was unlikely since I presume she’ll be sticking around for awhile.
I kept close tabs on her the rest of the afternoon and stuck around the mall another three hours or so. I’d never see her smoke again but if my timing between passes was just bad enough I suppose there was opportunity for her to sneak out for a quick smoke in between my laps around the mall, both on foot or later by car. I had hoped to see her again that day but was confident that my dark-complected beauty with the volcanic exhales will resurface later in 2016. And I was right…..
I went back to the mall on the unseasonably warm Saturday in late February when I ended up seeing the #5 girl on this year’s list….and had one girl in mind that I wanted to see an encore of….the dark brunette from the nail product kiosk. I went into the mall and immediately drifted towards her kiosk to see if she was there. A middle-aged woman with similar hair and skin color to the girl I was looking for was peddling the product and I heard an accent in her voice…..and as I got closer I saw my girl was on the other side of the kiosk, decked out in a similar black blazer as the previous time only with black slacks rather than dark jeans below the waistline. From the beginning I thought this girl looked like she had Middle Eastern features but now that she was in the presence of the older woman who was very clearly from that part of the world I expect I have my answer…..the older woman likely immigrated to America, married a caucasian man and they raised a beautiful and stinky daughter who is now in her 20s and addicted to cigarettes.
I did my usual laps around the mall in the coming minutes hoping I’d get the timing right when she came out for a smoke break. And sure enough, as I was walking in through the northwest mall entrance, it was deja vu all over again from the month before when she came strutting towards the door in her heels unashamedly wielding an unlit all-white cigarette between her fingers. Unfortunately, I’ve already become familiar to her and she made eyes with me immediately. I managed to catch my bench from before and watch the show but I had to be more discreet in sneaking my peeks than the previous sighting and wasn’t even remotely entertaining the idea of snapping pics.
What a show though! She smokes very quickly, presumably because her break time is limited and she’s expected back as quickly as possible, but I also figure it’s somewhat related to the magnitude of her nicotine craving. Her drags were fierce and the amount of smoke she produced on her exhales never disappointed. After the initial massive blast of exhaled smoke, there was always a copious amount of smoke that still exited her respiratory system on the second breath, and sometimes I would even see smoke spilling out of her mouth and nose on the THIRD breath after the exhale. She never really busted me but I was definitely pushing the envelope watching her out of the corner of my eye as smoke kept coming and the cigarette got shorter and shorter. In only about three minutes, she stood up and broke my heart by depositing the butt into a smoker’s pole, again denying me the butt ID on what I suspect is a Marlboro Light. Someday I hope to determine that definitively but it wasn’t gonna be that day. I also lamented not being able to follow her closely back to her kiosk and smell how stinky she was without giving myself away.
Now in January, I saw her smoking only once and kept returning to her spot in hopes of seeing an encore which I never ended up getting. Despite her tremendous style, I began to wonder if she was a lighter smoker, but there was always a chance she sneaked a smoke break in between my voyages past her smoking area. Whatever the case, my timing was better in February when less than an hour after seeing her smoke her first cigarette, I turned the corner towards her smoking area and saw her puffing away again. I couldn’t linger this time the way I did previously and realize that this is gonna be a recurring issue with all subsequent sightings of her, but the approach to her bench is a fairly long one so I got to slow-walk the 75 yards or so, and with as quickly as she smokes on her breaks, I was able to see a lot of smoking during that walk with her usual fireworks of intense drags and massive, multiple-breath exhales. I wished I could have stuck around to see more but had to walk on past to avoid completely telling on myself, content with seeing two cigarettes from her in less than hour.
I’d see this girl again 2016 as she was working at the kiosk (or another one her family runs) on a few more days I went to the mall. The location of the other kiosk put her in a different smoking area for the other sightings I got from her this year. It would have been a location where I’d have been able to pull off a fantastic front-row seat on an adjacent bench complete with active close-up smoking pics….had I not already become so familiar to her from my previous encounters. Not wanting to risk being thoroughly busted, I had to get creative and walk through lanes of the parking lot approaching the mall from afar to both watch her performance and continue being unnoticed. Her fast-paced smoking performance and gigantic volume of smoke continued as always, and without front-and-center smokers’ poles at this location as they were in the other, she crushed her cigarettes out onto the pavement here and I was able to definitively discern that they were Marlboro Lights. I never want to get used to the idea that a mall worker smoker girl will be around forever as I’ve already experienced abrupt departures from a few of them, but I’m more confident than usual that I’ll be seeing more of this hottie in 2017.
#2. The first weekend in December every holiday season, I kick off my “holiday tour of malls”, exploring three different malls in central Iowa and southern Minnesota during the three biggest Christmas shopping weekends where mall traffic–and tobacco use among female shoppers–runs highest. Many of my best mall sightings have transpired over this holiday season tour in years past but in the last few years they’ve been disappointing. But that streak ended on my December 3 visit to central Iowa’s most upscale mall. In terms of sheer numbers of attractive young ladies smoking, it provided me the most sightings of any single mall visit in 2016, although with few genuine stunners among them. There was one 17ish blond cutie passing a cigar back and forth with her boyfriend, but she was the only sighting that had genuinely stood out during my 3 1/2 hours of exploring on foot. I was gonna spend another 45 minutes driving laps around the mall from there, and as all too often happens, that move triggered a sighting that still has me reeling for how surreal it was…..
I had turned near a fairly remote southwest corner of the mall encircling the department store anchor Younkers when I spotted a mother and daughter sitting on an only somewhat obscure employee entrance step, both smoking cigarettes. The mother was a decently attractive early-to-mid-30s brunette with a decent body and face but an overall utilitarian look. As for the daughter, upon first inspection I figured she was 11. Seeing her sitting next to mom with a cigarette in hand, smoking in a location where there were almost some passersby besides myself who spotted them, rocked me to my core. I had to swing through a column of cars in the parking lot and double back to get a better and prolonged look at this, and doing so I was able to catch the last 30 seconds or so of the performance. My eyes had not failed me, although a closer look indicated this cute little blond daughter with hair not even down to her shoulders was probably 12 or 13, but she wasn’t a day older than that, puffing away on a cigarette and doing so in a way that suggested this middle-schooler had been consuming cigarettes regularly since before she was even in middle-school. There were no bells and whistles to her style, at least not visible from 15 yards away as I was, but she dragged adeptly and produced solid exhales. I was only able to catch the last two drags before she crushed out the cigarette on the pavement and stood up, revealing her petite frame draped in a sweatshirt and light blue jeans that were completely presexualized. Mom and daughter had risen to their feet because of an approaching white pick-up truck, a junky old beater that unfortunately fit the stereotype of the kind of downscale “white trash” family one would fathom most likely to be the demographic responsible for whatever microscopic number of families would still allow a preteen daughter to smoke openly with mom in the year 2016.
I drove the other direction certain they were leaving the mall and that I had seen the last of them, positively beside myself with excitement that families like this still existed as I drove my next lap around the mall, but wishing I had seen more or gotten additional context of any kind. As I approached this side of the parking lot on my next lap, I figured I’d find a parking spot and identify the brand of the girl’s discarded cigarette butt. I took the first parking spot I could find on that southwest side of the lot and as I got out of my car I took note of a vaguely familiar beat-up white truck only two vehicles to my right in the lot. Oh my God…it was them! A very redneck-looking 30-something father was behind the wheel with his window rolled down but the brunette mother was in the passenger seat and the blond 12-ish daughter was seated in between them. How on Earth could I have gotten so lucky?!? I made a quick jaunt to ID her cigarette as a Marlboro Black but then returned to my car to see what else I could glean from this family. It turns out quite a bit!!!
First of all, the license plates on the truck showed they were from Appanoose County in southern Iowa near the Missouri border, undoubtedly coming to “the big city” for their Christmas shopping. In 2015, I drove through the town of Centerville, the county seat of Appanoose County and was treated to two public sightings of TEEN smoker girls in less than an hour in town on a random weekday afternoon in June, a sighting that made my top-10 random sightings for 2015. This family only enhanced my takeaway that Centerville is a hotbed of smoker-friendly demographics and perhaps a throwback to the 1990s in terms of teen smoking acceptance. I cracked my passenger side window when I got back inside my car to be able to hear at least some of their conversation, and within a couple of minutes, doing so allowed me to hear the collective flicks of three lighters and considerable streams of cigarette smoke rising inside the truck. I had a huge logistical challenge though. There was a blue car in between my car and the truck and the top of the car blocked me from having a direct view, forcing me to sit way up in my car seat in a highly conspicuous way in order to see anything. Meanwhile, dad was behind the wheel and closest to me, so I had to be extremely careful to avoid his spotting me…and to quickly turn away any time he started looking my way. And the daughter was the smallest person in the truck and sitting between the parents, so it was almost impossible to see even a glimpse of her. On only a couple of instances was I even able to see the mother take a drag or exhale from her cigarette, and then ash it out the open passenger window. The best I could do with the daughter was spot an occasional burst of smoke expelled in the center of the vehicle that clearly wasn’t coming from the mother or father. The father’s voice was the only one I was able to regularly hear as I listened in, and his commentary seemed consistent with his decidedly downscale profile. Some occasional giggling from the daughter was audible, but key dialogue about smoking never materialized.
Unfortunately, it started raining right in the middle of this epic event and the family put their windows up, signaling to me that the smoking show was likely over, yet I continued to sit there just in case something else would come of it. I had figured since the father had picked the mother and daughter up only 15 minutes or so earlier that their day of shopping was over, but when I saw the doors open and the occupants get out, it was clear they were going back into the mall. That was indeed the case and now I was about to get my first close-up look at mother and daughter, and it was an extended and stunning look at that. The girl was no longer smoking and was now wearing a neon yellow hoodie to avoid the rain, but as she stood outside next to mom for a good two minutes while dad drug his feet getting ready to go inside, I was treated to no fewer than four top-shelf smoker’s coughs from the daughter complete with follow-up lugie spits. This was just unreal….and suggested that this girl has been doing chronic damage to her still-developing lungs for years and was likely just as heavy of a smoker as her parents. Every 20 seconds or so, a fierce cough erupted from her deep black lungs, and I couldn’t imagine how this girl was able to get through a school day with this kind of an addiction and obvious side effects. And there was absolutely no doubt that she was about 12 years old or 13 at the very earliest, with a decently pretty face that had that slight bit of weathering you can expect to see even in the youngest of smokers. The interaction with the parents was also stunning. Mom was standing to her right and the daughter repeatedly smacked mom in the ass while standing there. Mom mildly protested, but the daughter continued doing it. It was clear this was a young girl given absolutely no behavioral boundaries and while that would undoubtedly serve her badly in the future, it was just magical to see her knowing the context that she was a heavy smoker whose parents indulged her significant addiction.
The family went into the mall and dad hung back briefly to finish another cigarette he was smoking. Normally this would have been my cue to leave, but when confronted with these increasingly rare event sightings, I hunker down. In this case, I sat in my car for 2 1/2 hours until long after dark waiting for their return hoping for one more visual reward. Sitting there all that time gave me plenty of time to ponder if this family was really as big of an aberration as it seemed. Both with my own sightings in the last several years of young girls smoking with the family and with the early-to-mid-20s girls I’ve dated who’ve talked about their “smoking families” and how they picked up the habit when they were in the 12-14 range, it seems as though there remains a small but significant culture in the modern era where tobacco use among all ages and in all settings is as accepted as it was a generation ago. Every time I see something like this, my instinct is to say that I’m not likely to ever see this sort of thing again….but then a year or so later I do see it again.
Anyway, it was a very long sit waiting for their departure from the mall but I would have stayed at my post till midnight if I had to. When I saw them approaching the truck, there wasn’t a cigarette to be found just yet which disappointed me given the challenging logistics inside the truck once they got inside. I was now parked in a spot where I was overlooking the passenger seat from an angle where I’d be slightly more likely to see the daughter seated in the middle, but by now it was dark which presented its own challenge. They started the engine of the truck and after a minute or so I was able to see the mother in the passenger seat with a cigarette. Through the darkness I was unable to see the daughter at all in the middle and figured I’d stayed all this time for nothing. But for whatever reason, just before leaving, the mother and father got out of the truck to check the contents in the truck bed. Their absence provided just the faintest hint of illumination inside the truck cab that allowed me to spot the daughter…and just before mom got back in the truck, I saw a cigarette approach the daughter’s lips followed by a glowing cherry as she took a drag, seconds before the truck pulled out of the parking lot. I’m not sure it was worth a 2 1/2-hour wait, but for a family this iconic in December 2016, I’d have done the same thing again.
#1. It had been another mediocre day of sightings at central Iowa’s most upscale mall on June 11, 2016, the latest in what had been a long line in mall sightings days with minimal smoker girl rewards. On top of that, it was also obscenely hot for early June in the Upper Midwest, in the low 90s with a tropical dew point. I was sweaty and tired as I took to my car after more than two hours of navigating the mall’s exterior scoping out sightings, but still went about driving a few laps around the mall before calling it quits for the day as I typically do. On this day, it led me to one of my most shocking and adorable mall sightings in years.
I hadn’t even completed one lap around the mall in my car when I approached this fairly remote bench on the southeast side of the mall. Sitting there by herself was an uber-wholesome long-haired redhead with pale strawberry hair and the face of an angel, decked out in a casual plaid blouse and a pair of medium blue denim capris. Wouldn’t it be something if she was out smoking, I thought to myself a split second before a cigarette was inserted into her mouth and she lit up. My heart skipped a beat and I immediately decided I had to get a better look at this, pulling into the mall parking lot and approaching the shaded bench where she sat smoking while busy on her phone. As isolated as this bench was my first instinct was that if I wanted to see her smoke I’d have to be right there, but then I noticed there was shrubbery in front of a department store entrance about 10 yards away, albeit in the direct sun. I’m glad I went here first because I was able to sit on the berm and have a direct view of her smoking. She had such a tender look about her that I could tell she was fairly young, but it was difficult to discern from my distance whether she was a teenager or in her early 20s. Either way, the smoking was adorable as she took a steady diet of fairly light drags with small exhales, indicating she was probably a rookie, and she made the cigarette last for a substantial number of drags that I was partaking in. But as she kept smoking, I just had this irresistible urge to approach that bench and get a better look at her, and then pretend to be waiting for someone when I got there. Finally as her cigarette was near its end, I approached….
She spotted me coming and made eye contact just as she was taking a final drag from a cigarette that I could see was a cork filter (this is important information for later). I wasn’t able to spot what happened to the butt but I did get a good look at that face, definitively deducing this girl was still a teenager. I sat on the edge of the bench and got in on some residual smoke aroma, but was also cognizant of not wanting to spook her, unsure whether prolonged silence or my initiating conversation would spook her more. I semiregularly looked her way, her face looking younger and more wholesome every time I took a gander, and noticed she was peeking my way on occasion too. After about five minutes, I figured it would serve me well to break the silence and asked if “she was waiting for someone too”. This surprisingly husky voice responded “yes” and we bantered for about a minute talking about how nice it was at this bench out of the sun with a nice breeze. Obviously I wasn’t “waiting for someone” but figured it would explain my presence there as best as possible, checking my phone on occasion pretending to field nonexistent text messages from the phantom I was acting like I was waiting for.
I kept wanting to talk more now that I had my foot in the door, but calculated that if we started to banter, I’d dig myself into a deeper hole with my phony story….and that she might be more shy when it came to the possibility of another cigarette coming out if I was engaged in conversation with her, not wanting to do something widely reviled in modern society in the presence of a friendly stranger. I also wanted to take a picture of her. I can be pretty stealth with my camera phone but the risk of sneaking a pic in such an isolated setting and so close-up was way too high. So I sat there in awkward silence for another five minutes or so…..and it paid off more handsomely than I could ever have dreamed. I heard rustling around a few feet to my right and looked over to find this redheaded teen cutie inserting a long, thin, and all-white cigarette into her mouth. It was a freaking Virginia Slim 120! Was this girl for real?!?!?!
Sitting to her side was a liability as I was not in a position to watch her drags, but I took subtle glances to my right at key times to watch her young lips wrap around that long and slender cigarette, enjoying basking in the aroma of her freshly exhaled smoke for three incredible drags. I had now decided that my strategy to not engage with her lest she be bashful about lighting up again no longer applied since she in fact had lit up again and my lips were just preparing to ask her if that was a Virginia Slim, with that addendum that “I hadn’t seen one of them for years”, when she was craning her neck and obviously recognizing a familiar vehicle. Damn it! Her ride had arrived. At this point she snuffed out the end of the recently lit cigarette and retrieved her pack, confirming in front of my eyes that it was indeed a Virginia Slim 120, confusing me regarding the status of the cork filter she had smoked 15 minutes earlier.
But she had one more surprise when she turned to me and said “well my ride’s here….good luck to you” or words to that effect in her husky smoker’s voice that didn’t fit the image at all as she stood up and approached the new truck coming to pick her up with a middle aged man almost certain to be her father behind the wheel. Oh how I wished I had engaged earlier now, and watching the youthful way she carried herself as she got into that truck expanded the mystery of this sighting to another level. Even after seeing her upclose and talking to her, I had assumed this girl had to be 18 or 19. But now that I was watching her get picked up by daddy it made me wonder if she was younger yet….as in not even old enough to have a driver’s license! I’ll never know, but whatever the case it was just amazing to take it all in as her father now had a very smelly young passenger who reeked of fresh cigarette smoke stinking up the interior of his new truck, which she apparently is not allowed to smoke in since she snuffed out the VS 120 before getting inside.
I looked around for the cork filter butt after she left but couldn’t locate it. Not sure what she did with it but it wasn’t on the ground near where she sat. I suddenly had a renewed energy unlike anything I’ve felt in quite some time from fetishing malls. It was one of my best mall sightings in years and even though I took some risks that paid off handsomely, a little more adventurousness coupled with slightly better timing on dad’s part could potentially have put this one at the very top of my all-time mall sightings list. It’s rare moments like these that make all those Saturday afternoons walking laps around malls worthwhile.
This collective haul makes 2016 my best for mall sightings since at least 2011, if not earlier. The numbers of sightings from malls this year don’t compare with what I was seeing 10 years ago, so it was probably a fluke that I came across so many great ones amongst a smaller overall subset of sightings. Either way, I’ll take it, knowing I’ll be lucky to yield even one mall sighting of the caliber of the five above in 2017.