My three-week annual holiday season mall run was largely a disappointment in 2012 despite the large December crowds, but my Old Reliable mall in the Des Moines area came through right at the end of my day on the final of the three weekend visits. On an unusually warm mid-December day, I was casually walking across a fairly sparse stretch of sidewalk just to the north of the mall’s main entrance in front of a Staples store. Sitting on the curb all by herself was a very attractive 18ish brunette, and even though I didn’t see a cigarette in her hand as I approached, I couldn’t imagine any other reason she’d be sitting at this spot. It wasn’t until I passed her that I spotted a two-thirds smoked all white in her left hand, at which point I backtracked and found an open bench nearby with a great vantage point.
She appeared to be a slow smoker, which gave me an opportunity to study her as she sat there. I was impressed with her fresh-faced late teen beauty, glammed up by her fairly “tall” dark brown hair which crested above her forehead and flowed down her black jacket. And even though she was sitting down, it was also obvious the girl was quite tall, elevated further by the platform shoes she was wearing. While all of these observations were fine and dandy, her smoking was what I was most interested in, and she was really making me wait for that until the cigarette finally approached her lips. Suffice it to say she was worth the wait as a sustained look of pleasure could be observed on her face as she ingested an impressive amount of smoke into her young body. I had to measure my glances her direction so as not to get busted and briefly looked away after that first drag, looking back a moment later and cursing myself for missing her exhale. Only I didn’t miss it. A good 5-6 seconds later, long after I had given up hope, a blast of smoke finally emerged from her lips after a delayed expulsion from her lungs. I had finally landed a Christmas gift of my choosing from the malls of the Upper Midwest! And she was just getting started….
The girl made me earn the yumminess that followed, however, as she continued to smoke slowly, and her left-handed possession of the cigarette kept it out of my view except for those moments where she was actually smoking it. But every drag made the challenge worthwhile, with lengthy and intense inhalation, complete with a pleasured look on her face, and highly extended hold times that made me wonder if the ball at Times Square would drop kicking off 2013 before the smoke finally escaped her teenage body. But the good times were short-lived as she was near the end of the cigarette, and after only three drags that I witnessed, it was pretty clear that she was smearing the cigarette on the curb to her left just out of my sight. My adrenaline had gotten ramped up for all too brief of a reward, but before I was able to be brought back down, out came a pack of Camel Lights from her jacket pocket and the extraction of another cigarette.
My suspicion was that she was a Staples employee, even though she wasn’t dressed for it, trying to squeeze two cigarettes in during a break. Whatever the context, I now had the entirety of her second cigarette to enjoy her impressive routine, and she made good with every drag consisting of the same intensity and the same impossibly long hold times. A cute distraction in the middle of the second cigarette was a couple very young Hispanic boys (under age five) who walked directly in front of her, paying no attention to her but walking right through the path of her secondhand smoke, when the girl’s internal clock clearly chimed at the sight of the young boys, bringing a smile to her stinky face. At least 15 minutes had transpired before the second cigarette was extinguished in the same way as the first, and only seconds afterwards a black truck with tinted windows pulled up and the girl rose to her feet and approached the passenger side. The tinted windows prevented me from seeing the driver or from seeing if she lit up yet another cigarette once inside the truck, but it seemed likely at that point that she was merely a mall customer rather than a Staples employee out on a smoke break as I had suspected. The truck drove off and I walked over to her spot on the curb, instantly laying eyes on two Camel Light butts and the black smears of freshly extinguished tobacco directly in front of the butts. My misgivings about the holiday season smoker girl selection at area malls was at that point entirely forgotten.