Various points of the year 2003 were pretty rough for me, thanks in large part to the departure of heavy-smoking girlfriend Dana whose disappearing act left us more than 1,500 miles apart and apparently destined to stay there. In June 2003, I was making my annual early summer road trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the sunny, humid day I got for the 2003 trip seemed particularly therapeutic.
It’s a rite of passage on my Sioux Falls trip, for specific sentimental purposes, to have dinner at Arby’s, specifically going through the drive-thru. As I pulled into the drive-thru that early afternoon, I took immediate notice of the SUV in front of me, where a gorgeous early 20s dark brunette in sunglasses was placing her order. She was the spitting image of Dana…..and she had the freshly lit all-white cigarette protruding from her fingers to truly authenticate the image. I’m sure my mouth was hanging open in delighted surprise as the girl leaned towards the speaker and matter-of-factly confirmed her order, looking absolutely adorable wielding that cigarette in her hand.
She pulled forward and was largely out of sight from that point forward, but thankfully for me the line was moving somewhat slowly, meaning I was able to park behind her after placing my own order. I could only see the edge of her face in the reflection in her rearview mirror, but was still able to enjoy a pretty spectacular show observing bursts of toxic smoke flowing out of the driver’s side window every 30 seconds or so. It was such a beautiful thing to behold, particularly knowing it was coming from the lungs of this gorgeous girl, and I found myself waiting in breathless anticipation for the next burst of smoke to escape her SUV. She would eventually pick up her order and drive off. It would be as close as I’d come to seeing my Dana smoking a cigarette in the summer of 2003.