My maiden voyage to the Missouri State Fair was a mixed bag. One incredible sighting dominated the day but when that sighting was dormant, there was little else going on, especially before dark. But right after sunset early in the 8:00 hour I scored my only other electric moment from the day. It was the only “hunch” I followed that day that ended up bearing fruit for me. The sighting started on the block full of bars when I saw this 19ish redhead who was too chubby to even count as a sighting smoking a cigarette in the company of this sweetheart of a 17-18ish wholesome and slender long-haired blond in a black T-shirt and dark jeans. The duo drifted behind a barrier to a hidden area where I figured just maybe the young girl would smoke too. Instead, the two girls met this late 30s brunette gal who was smoking and seemed to know them….possibly a relative. The setting was so conspicuous and the blond teen was so adorable that I hovered in a very awkward spot to keep tabs on them. A couple of minutes passed and there was no smoking to be seen by the young blond. I drifted away figuring I wasn’t gonna get anything out of this but couldn’t resist looking over my shoulder towards the same group a minute or so later, just in case. And my instinct finally served me well for the first time that day as I finally saw the impossibly adorable teen blond placing the half-smoked cigarette into her mouth….
I caught her at exactly the right time because seconds later the group was back on the block heading eastward, only now with the young girl holding the cigarette in her hand. Where did this half-smoked cigarette come from? The only place it could have come from was the late 30s brunette (possible mother) who apparently let the young blond finish her cigarette! I followed closeby and was able to witness some very impressive smoking, with long drags and hugely cloudy exhales, one of which whacked an innocent fairgoer in the face as she walked. This girl was no rookie and whatever inhibitions I originally suspected she may have had about smoking in public were dispelled. I got to see four drags before she did what apparently all Missouri smoker girls do….she dropped the smoldering butt to the pavement without crushing it out and kept on walking, allowing me to easily ID the butt as a cork filter L & M. I continued to follow and even though I knew my camera phone wouldn’t work well after sunset, I snapped a rear and side photo of this nicotine angel that, while blurry, turned out better than I expected. The trio proceeded to the fairgrounds exit and went past the gate, leading me to believe I caught them in their final minutes at the fair that day….
And that certainly was my suspicion until I was back on the beer gardens block around 10:30 that night and suddenly spotted a group of 18-19 year olds hovering outside the “dance club” playing hip-hop music. The chubby friend was there, along with my high school-aged blond beauty queen, and two other decently attractive girls both under 21. There was only one problem. It appears likely that I just missed the hot girl smoking. The chubby friend was finishing her cigarette while the two other friends were just lighting up, both of them impressive enough to count as sightings but neither holding a candle to my blond. As for the blond, she proudly held a pack of Marlboro Nxts in her hand…..but as I said I must have just missed her smoking. The upside was that it was now official that this girl was a regular smoker who carried around her own cigarettes and that her generic L & M from earlier was simply one that she bummed. The other upside was that I was standing so close to her in a very well-lit location that I was able to score a couple of photos of her that, while not entirely perfect, turned out better than any other photos I’ve ever taken outdoors at 10:30 p.m. What a sweetheart she was…..but unfortunately she and the friends wandered into this dance club never to be seen again that night and I wouldn’t get the chance to see her smoke another cigarette. If I had, this cutie would be much higher on my list.