The numbers sure were coming slowly in the early afternoon hours on my maiden voyage to the Indiana State Fair in 2017 and I had yet to figure out why, but all would be forgiven around 1:30 when the girl who came to define an otherwise dreadful day made her first appearance with a cigarette. Stepping out of this corn dog booth with cork-filter cigarette in hand was this 19-20ish brunette working the booth and briefly leaving the young male coworker to cover the stand himself. The brunette wasn’t conventionally gorgeous, at least in her work uniform, but she had a twinkle in her eye and an innocence about her that fascinated me. She wore her long brown hair up in a bun on top of her head to keep the sweat off her face as she worked, with a red T-shirt and medium-blue jean shorts on the bottom. Her long legs were fully exposed from the upper thigh on down. Plus I was getting a kick out of the fact that she was about to smoke her cigarette directly outside the booth where she worked, which I figured would be frowned upon by just about about everybody, especially her employer.
I got lucky as she was chatting with the guy as she slow-walked her way out, allowing me to get my camera ready and snap the shot where she was lighting up. She was standing in the shadow of the fair booth so the lighting isn’t ideal, but it was as good of a shot as I was gonna get. From there, she put up a folding chair to sit on and propped her right leg up onto the stand, maximizing her relaxation on company time and using their own equipment to lean upon as she smoked. She took long, heavenly drags sitting on that chair with considerable hold times and exhales entirely from her mouth that fired downward at consistent 45-degree angles. The back of the line for the milk stand was overlapping with where I stood so I blended in nicely and I was certain that I was snapping a number of close-range pics when she was dragging in this relaxed break-time position, but I just sensed something was going wrong with the photos again (I was right…for whatever reason, none of them after the light-up pics took..and I was sick about it). Nonetheless, I got an amazing farrow-to-finish sighting of a young cutie committed to her smoking to the point of consuming it directly in front of would-be customers. She dropped the butt in the trash can next to the stand so I was denied the butt ID, but still walked away with a needed boost of adrenaline at that point in the day.
This corn dog stand was front and center in the grounds so I walked past it multiple times that day. The inconvenient layout of the grounds limited my ability to cover it as much as I’d like to, but I found myself walking past it as often as possible as the afternoon went on, figuring there was a very good chance I’d see more of her. The guy in the booth got to have his own smoke breaks at various junctures of the day, but it was the girl I was holding out for, particularly with the hope of a second chance at action photos in that adorable position she was in before. About an hour and a half later in the day, I’d get my chance, walking upon her in mid-cigarette seated at the same place she was before, although unfortunately she wasn’t propping her right leg up on the side of the stand this time. I’d only catch the last few drags of this cigarette, but was able to get that second chance I’d hoped for with the photos. The shadow from the booth again kept the lighting from being perfect, but I certainly captured her essence in this round of snapshots. That was the end for this girl’s daytime body of work, but like a nicotine vampire she would be back in the evening.
In fact, my timing with her during those evening hours was even more perfect as I came upon her smoking three separate times after dark, all within a couple hours of each other. By now, she had traded in the folding chair she sat on to smoke her daytime cigarettes for some cardboard box. I took one additional blurry nighttime pic that didn’t turn out, but mostly just stood to the side and watched, the dark sky and backlighting making her cloudy 45-degree downward angle exhales all the more visible. At one point, some nonsmoking fairgoer asked her directions to something while she was in mid-cigarette, possibly being mindful that the girl was breaking the fairgrounds smoking rule at her location. Her third cigarette of the day ended up getting stubbed out against the corn dog stand itself, and I got off on the idea of her defiling her employer’s property by using it as an ashtray….on top of the questionable frequency and location of her smoke breaks.
At around 11:00 I began a very long walk back to my shuttle bus on sore feet, and the last bit of tobacco consumption I’d see for the night was my corn dog stand girl as she smoked her fifth cigarette of the night as I walked past for the last time. She wasn’t the prettiest girl of the day, but she was the most prolific and a beacon of smoking security in a day that offered little of that. When factoring in that I likely missed quite a few daytime smoke breaks from her, it was clear she was a pretty heavy smoker, and if she works that corn dog booth in that kind of heat for more than two weeks, it must be horribly oppressive and qualify those smoke breaks as the highlight of her very long workdays.