In the previous couple of years, the smoking area outside the grandstand at my local county fair hasn’t delivered the way it routinely did five years earlier, and the Wednesday night concert by country singer Craig Campbell at the 2014 FCF had been another case in point until the last 15 minutes or so of the concert before I finally hit pay dirt, and boy did I ever, with one of the most confusing sightings I’ve ever gotten. This cute and petite little blond in a tanktop and jean shorts wandered out of the grandstand and lurked in the smoking area. She looked about 13 so I figured she was just waiting for somebody or preparing to send a text. Imagine my utter disbelief when about five seconds later an unlit cigarette was inserted into her lips and sparked up….
I continued to be skeptical though as her back was now towards me and I figured I must have just missed her face. She had to have simply been an older girl who looked really young, but she cooperated nicely and took a seat on a bench in the smoking area, sitting in the light and letting me have as good of a look at her face as I could possibly get. And sweet Jesus I could still swear she was not a day over 14. But that’s when the confusion started. Two much older guys followed her onto the bench and it was clear they were part of the same group. I didn’t get a good look at the guy who sat across from her with his back to me, but figured he was in his 30s. But the guy who sat next to her was this bearded, thuggish-looking young guy who looked about 22. All three of them were smoking cigarettes and I was carefully studying this odd dynamic for clues as to their association with one another…..
What I got was a contrasting litany of clues that continue to leave me scratching my head months later. The girl carried herself like a very new smoker, everything from the way she held her cigarette to her extremely shallow one-second drags and minimalist exhales. And adorably, she had a jug of Gatorade in front of her that she was taking sips from in between shallow drags on her cigarette. Everything about her smoking style screamed that she was exactly what she originally seemed, an early teen girl who just picked up the smoking habit. But right when I thought I had this situation figured out and was leaning back to enjoy a rare show of an adorable beginner early teen smoker, the thuggish bearded guy leaned over to give the girl a quick peck on the lips. I had dismissed the prospect of this guy being her boyfriend because he looked at least eight years older than she did, but the evidence was now pointing to him being just that. Was she considerably older than she looked? I just kept looking at that tender face right in front of me and simply couldn’t see it. There was just no way she was older than 14! But I couldn’t imagine this guy being any less than 21 and would be pretty shocked if he was carrying out a public relationship with a girl as young as she seemed given the obvious legal implications….
I never quit trying to figure this sighting out but it only got more confusing. After several minutes she crushed the cigarette out on the edge of the bench she was sitting on and dropped it to the grass. Show over right? Not by a longshot. I wasn’t paying as close of attention in the moments after she finished her cigarette but lo and behold when I looked over again she was already smoking another one, her smoking style continuing to consist of the shallowest imaginable drags and exhales. The presumed boyfriend smoked another as well, and also pulled in for another quickie kiss. But things just got insane after she finished the second cigarette and she reached to the pack of L & M and lighter in front of her to fire up a THIRD cigarette. Even with all the ambiguity about the girl’s age, I had still grown comfortable with the idea that she was a rookie smoker based on her rudimentary style, but now even that was in question. After all, how many rookie smokers smoke three cigarettes in a row over a 15-minute period. The confusion was killing me, but it was a good kind of killing to be sure….
In the moments to come, two hot smoker girls on the other side of the fence inside the beer gardens had lit up as well. It was darker on the other side of the fence so I didn’t get as excellent of a vantage point of the new girls as I did with the would-be 14-year-old cutie in the smoking area, but I was able to see that the girls were both hot and much more skilled smokers than the teenager with long, deep drags and cloudy exhales. It was not uncommon for me to be able to dart my eyes from the young girl outside the fence to the two 20-somethings inside the fence and see three consecutive drags, the cherries of their cigarettes glowing red one after another with a cloud of smoke spewed from their respiratory systems that were as black as the evening sky. It was far and away the highlight thus far of the smoking area from the two nights of concerts…..
And the show ended right around the same time as the two 20-somethings wrapped up their cigarettes and crushed them out while the younger girl who had by now smoked as many cigarettes combined as the two older guys in her company finished her third cigarette soon after. The concert was wrapping up and the trio got up to leave moments before Corey and I would depart, giving me one last look at this girl’s body which, again, looked like that of an early teen girl. So what was the most likely scenario here? Perhaps it was exactly as it seemed and a much older guy was dating this jailbait girl and corrupting her into being a smoker. But honestly I suspect he may have been a few years younger than I suspected and she may have been a few years older. You’ll occasionally run into girls, especially really petite girls, who look much younger than they are, but damn if this girl didn’t look like she was just getting ready to start the eighth grade next month. I didn’t see her on the grounds again Wednesday night and thus never got any more context to understand her story. Even with the confusion, it was my one of the better sightings at the local county fair of 2014.