I had been having a pretty great day of sightings by the 9 p.m. hour on my third day at the 2014 Iowa State Fair, but I hadn’t yet scored a future first-ballot Hall of Famer yet. That was about to change as I made my fateful journey into the midway and worked my way towards the back when I spotted a trio of teens (two guys and a girl) and spotted one of the guys lighting up. My eyes veered towards the girl in the group as I passed them and sure enough, she already had a cigarette lit. I didn’t get a very good look at her while walking past but was following from behind now and admiring a perky, petite young body in a girlish red tanktop and very short jean shorts with a long, freshly lit cigarette next to it. It was quite a sight, but having gotten a closer look only at the guys in the group up this point and seeing they were in the 17-18 range it never crossed my mind she’d be younger than that….until they all sat down in a X-shaped arrangement of metal benches next to another dude who was apparently waiting for the trio, and this allowed me to take a seat parallel to them, no more than five feet away from the girl who sat on the inside of her all male counterparts on the bench. Sweet Jesus! Hers was the purest young face I’d seen all day, arguably for the entire fair. I looked at all the guys around her and some of them even had facial hair. They were clearly in their late teens. It just didn’t make sense that they’d be hanging out with this 13-14-year-old girl, I kept telling myself, but as I studied her face and looked over her body, there was just no way this girl was anything other than a middle school girl!!
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect vantage point, leering over my left shoulder unbeknownst to everybody as she sat there on that metal bench, holding her cigarette to the right and as out of sight as possible except when she lifted it to her lips to take delightful drags. And they were very impressive, easily putting to shame the majority of the adult women smokers I came across that day with nice long drags, four-second hold times, and turning her head to the right (that would be my direction) to exhale volcanic eruptions of smoke that rocketed out of both her mouth and nose. Oh and she was just so precious to look at even when the smoke wasn’t flowing from her little face. She had long dark brown hair flowing down her back and such a slender young body inside that tanktop. But it was below the waist where that slender body sparkled best, with smooth legs that were just curvy enough that she didn’t look “too thin” flowing out of the tiniest pair of jean shorts I think I’ve ever seen. I felt sorry for how cold those legs must have been because a good six inches of her upper legs were touching the metal seat on the bench with as short as her jean shorts were. But that face was her key feature, brimming with youthful innocence while also evoking a big of a naughty side. Unlike a couple of the other teen smokers I saw at the fair this year, it didn’t surprise me to see this girl with a cigarette. She looked cute beyond belief with the petite frame and precious face to match, but she didn’t necessarily look wholesome. And I was reminded of that every time the cigarette approached her lips and was followed by a meaty, cloudy expulsion of smoke from her mouth and nose that were all generally headed my direction….
It still wasn’t adding up as I sat there watching though as everything about the way she carried herself from the way she sat to the way she touched her hair to the way she held her cigarette screamed “eighth grade girl”, but why on Earth would this group of older guys be with her unless the facial-haired guy sitting next to her I assumed was her boyfriend was dating someone four years younger? That scenario was certainly possible, but I was cynical enough at this point to simply believe she had to have been older than she looked. I’d get excellent additional context on this later in the night, but for now was just enjoying my best smoking show of the day and enjoying the exhales that me and the middle-aged lady sitting next to me kept choking on….
She dropped the cigarette to the ground next to her bench but the group didn’t leave. I really wanted a butt ID here but agonized as I looked down to see the cigarette smolder down to the filter in the five minutes or so that the group kept sitting there BSing with one another, with the girl doing the least amount of talking. On the other hand, it was kind of hot looking at that cigarette smoldering down there with smoke still rising from it at a pretty good clip minutes after it last touched human lips, knowing that it was the lips of this sweetheart of a young girl that were responsible for that continued rising smoke. Finally the group got up to leave and I quickly claimed her spot, looking down at the discarded cigarette with nothing left but a cork filter and a smoldering few centimeters of ash, denying me the brand identification that I coveted. I somehow managed to lose them in the midway after I got up but as I said, I would see the girl again and would get some clarity on the sighting’s biggest mystery. But even if the sighting had ended right there, it still would have been my best sighting of the night, and I’ll be haunted in my dreams for months at that adorable early teen face turning my direction and exhaling combination mouth and nasal blasts for a heavenly 5-7 minutes.
That sighting ended up being the catalyst for a flurry of extra base hits in the next half hour, but it was when I was returning from the south side that I struck gold and spotted a family moving northeast. The family in question included my sighting of the night, the brunette who looked like an early teen but whose presence with a group of older teen guys made me question my impression of her age. But watching her slender little body walk in tandem with two of those three guys now–behind a middle-aged couple–the puzzle piece finally fell into place. She wasn’t the girlfriend of any of those older guys she was smoking with on the midway….she was the kid sister of at least one of them. Now nobody was smoking on the long walk to the east side gate where they apparently parked their car, but it was fantastic to study them as I followed, finally realizing this young smoking prodigy WAS as young as I first believed, a revelation that made the sighting I saw earlier that much more delicious. I hoped that somebody would light up on that long walk back to the car but it wasn’t meant to be and once they exited the gate I conceded defeat. I was still extremely grateful for this revelation though as I now knew she almost certainly was 13 or 14 as I suspected all along, and a whole new set of questions arose. Did the parents smoke? Do the parents know their baby girl smokes? The possibilities are endless and I only wish I was able to find out how the story ends.