I was driving home from work through the north side of Des Moines on a nice early autumn day in October 2008 and traffic slowed to a crawl near a construction zone. While inching through the bottleneck of traffic at this zone, I looked to the sidewalk to my right to see an absolutely adorable brunette school girl who looked somewhere between 14 and 16 years old from my somewhat limited vantage point. She was wearing a black top and this uber-feminine and girlish black puffy skirt that looked like something a girl would wear going to a ballet class, not walking the sidewalks of Des Moines.
Imagine my shock when I noticed a freshly lit all-white in her hands. As our paths crossed, I had to take a closer look to make sure it was really a cigarette and not a pen or a lollypop or something. Sure enough, it was a cigarette…and just as I was driving off, she inserted it into her mouth and took a drag. I didn’t get to observe the intensity of the drag and the quality of the exhale, but just knowing that a girl this young and this cute still smokes publicly on the streets of Des Moines in the year 2008 was more than enough to lift my spirits.