It was right around noon on a Tuesday in late August 2016 and I was just returning to Des Moines after 3 1/2 days and nearly 1,500 miles worth of traveling through America’s “smoking belt”, hitting smoker-friendly states like Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and southern Illinois hoping to see plenty of smoking by fresh-faced young hotties along the way. Unfortunately I didn’t find much to hang my hat on for random sightings and had only one last pit stop before going home….stopping at Best Buy two miles from my place to get the keyboard on my cell phone fixed. I got that wrapped up in a few minutes and returned to my car to go home, sweet home. But as I was pulling out of the lot, I spotted an SUV driving by with this angelic-faced teen brunette behind the wheel holding a half-smoked cigarette in her left hand next to the steering wheel.
At the next opportunity, I turned back into the parking lot and was able to follow the SUV, which parked at a stall right near the front of the store. I was able to find an adjacent lot to park my car in and watch as two late teen girls finished their cigarettes before heading inside. The passenger was overweight and unattractive, as is so often the case, but the driver was a piece of heaven on Earth. It’s a cliché at this point to compare a girl to Selena Gomez, but perhaps more than any other girl I’ve seen, this baby-faced brunette cutie behind the wheel looked like a 2012-era Selena, with a button-cute face and the softest imaginable features. She was the absolute last girl I’d have imagined to see smoking this day and age. I got to see about three final drags before the girls got out of the SUV and approached Best Buy. The cutiepie driver was wearing this utilitarian blue T-shirt and a pair of black shorts with legs fitting the adorableness profile of the rest of her person.
I was exhausted and road-weary at this point, desperate to get home, but nonetheless decided to camp out in my car waiting for their return in case they lit up again, but certainly hoping they wouldn’t stay inside long. And thankfully they weren’t. Within 10 minutes, they were back out, and unfortunately I used the time they were inside to call my parents and let them know I made it home so I wasn’t able to take a photo of the brunette coming out. The call ended as soon as they got in the SUV but it was too late for a pic. Since it hadn’t been long I figured the chances of them lighting up again probably wasn’t great but I held out hope. Unfortunately it was not to be as they began pulling out with no additional tobacco usage on the horizon. Still, I decided it would be worth my effort to follow them out of the parking lot just in case. They were headed the same general direction as me anyway so it worked out okay as we headed westward, making it about eight blocks before approaching a red light….and that’s when it happened….
Sitting at the red light, I caught the brunette rolling her window down a few inches and then saw an unlit cigarette in her left hand. This was happening! I even saw the light-up in the reflection of her rearview mirror. She took a right turn and I followed. It was game-on as I maneuvered to the left lane to see as much of this as possible. Unfortunately I wouldn’t hit a red light and be parallel to her but was still able to see plenty. From the way she held her cigarette to the relatively shallow drags she was taking, it was clear this was an 18-year-old beginner smoker who likely just started classes at the nearby community college that week and was relishing her newfound freedom by picking up a smoking habit. And here she was, smoking two cigarettes within 15 minutes in her car in the presence of her smoking friend who’s likely doing the same. It was a very gratifying sight to see and I got to witness bits and pieces of about three minutes of this show, with a handful of drags by this fresh-faced beauty. If I had seen this girl smoking a full cigarette at any of my fairs in August, she’d have been the #1 sighting for 2016. That’s how incredible she was.