My 2005 Minnesota State Fair safari was a disappointment, but there were a few quality sightings over the course of the day that still have a place reserved in this countdown, and none of greater quality than this one from the late afternoon in the seating area east of the grandstand…
Seated on the cement and looking as if they were either relaxing or waiting on somebody was three members of a family. On the left was the father, on the right was an 18-19 son, and sandwiched in between a petite, wholesome, and classy-looking blond girl. Father and daughter were smoking, and I was immediately struck by the dynamic where the only nonsmoker in the family was the oldest son, even though from a demographic standpoint he would be the most likely of the three to smoke. But I was primarily getting off on this sighting because the daughter was so tiny I originally thought she was only about 13 or 14. The father very clearly noticed I was watching them early on, so I had to be as subtle as possible and had a hard time observing specifics like the intensity of inhales and the thickness of exhales, but I could tell the girl was not a novice smoker as she took subsequent drags.
All of the sudden, another player entered the scene when a middle-aged woman approached with a cigarette in hand, walking their direction before being waved down by the father of the smoking family. It was clear she was the mother of the household, and her emergence added to my continued wonder how the oldest son avoided becoming a smoker having grown up in this household. The four of them got up and started walking away, heading my general direction en route to the main part of the fairgrounds. The girl still had her cigarette and proceeded to dangle it for several moments before walking not too far away from me. Taking a closer look, she appeared a little older than I originally thought and was probably 16 or 17 rather than 13 or 14, and having focused pretty much exclusively on her smoking thus far I had somehow missed that she was wearing a very old-fashioned long blue dress with a white pattern on it, an adorable outfit that added to her unlikely smoker girl bona fides.
Since she was near the end of her cigarette I was hoping she’d toss the butt and allow me to identify her brand, but she proceeded to stub out the cigarette in her fingers as she walked away. I’m not sure if she saved the tiny remaining portion of tobacco left in the cigarette or simply discarded it outside my line of vision, but the cigarette nonetheless disappeared. Even so, watching that blue skirt migrate out of sight, it was still impressive to ponder that I had just seen the girl inside of it smoking a cigarette with her parents.