Because of a fluke of the calendar and the fact that I moved some stuff around this year, I was able to go the Iowa State Fair for a third visit in 2014 on a Saturday afternoon, and it was another excellent day. The grandstand entertainment for the evening was Lady Antebellum and Billy Currington and their concert was scheduled to start around 8. About a half hour before the show began, lots of country girls in short shorts were hovering around the grandstand entrances and I was looking for some with cigarettes between their fingers and was lucky enough to find one. Standing just off of the curb on the concourse and jumping out at me from a distance was a girl with a freshly lit cigarette between her fingers who was surrounded by nonsmoking elders. I hustled on up for a closer look as she was foraging through her wallet/purse where a visible pack of Marlboro Lights was front and center. And getting a closer look at her, she was at most 18, most likely a year or two younger with long, curly light brown hair, a black Lady Antebellum T-shirt (no mystery where she would be going in mere moments) and a nice pair of dark blue cutoffs cresting over smooth young legs and an unusual pair of boots. Typical country girl look right? Well, sort of….
The features of this girl and the nonsmoking younger girl next to her both struck me as at least partially Hispanic. Yet the cluster of nonsmoking adults the girls were standing with were as middle-aged white Iowan as they come, all joined together standing off the concourse curb so that the teenage girl in their company could smoke a cigarette. Now it’s vaguely possible that these girls were not Hispanic but I got a couple of photos and have studied them carefully and it seems almost certain to me the smoker girl has some Latina in her. Perhaps the daughters are adopted. I have no idea but whatever the family dynamic, it was an adorable smoking show….
The adults mostly talked to themselves but my Latina Marlboro teen was slowly enjoying that cigarette, taking nice enough drags but making that thing last a long time. She usually turned her head to the right when exhaling, avoiding the cluster of nonsmokers that almost certainly included her parents. And the sighting had one oddball little wrinkle as well that gave it additional character. Her cigarette wasn’t burning properly, which I noticed right away but which she didn’t seem to notice for a few minutes, with a long stretch of black paper that had burned but was clinging for its life onto her smoldering cigarette and refusing to come off. At first she showed the cigarette to the gal to her right who I assumed was her mother and how the burnt paper was clinging to it, and I’m sure mom was absolutely fascinated to see the deformity on her teenage daughter’s cigarette. After multiple aggressive attempts to ash the paper off, girly finally had to kneel down and rub the burnt paper onto the pavement and then stood back up and resumed smoking….
It was a nice long show and I wasn’t going anywhere until she finished it. Finally she did, and I waited another few minutes for them to head back into the grandstand when I stepped up and definitively IDed her butt as a traditional Marlboro Light rather than one of its offshoots. As I turned and watched the family enter the grandstand, knowing somebody was gonna be forced to sit next to that smelly daughter during the show, I speculated that this may have been the second girl adopted across racial/ethnic lines who I had seen smoking that day in the company of nonsmoking parents. I wonder if there’s something to that….greater likelihood of girls from adopted parents taking up smoking. I can imagine an increased permissiveness in such households for various reasons, but then again, it may just be a fluke. Fluke or not, said scenarios made for two of my favorite sightings on August 16, 2014, with this one by far the better of the two.