His smoking only really bothers me when he quits. The problem being is that a few months later he usually picks it up again. My senses, now used to a smoke-free environment, are then besieged by tobacco clouds and I’m put off by the nose-scrunching chemical stink clinging to him. Until I become inured to it once again, a process that takes about a week, I am a romance-free zone to BF.
He’s trying to quit now. Again. I applaud him for it. I do. However, it’s a halfhearted applause, the same kind you give to other people’s children at a talent show. My hopes that this round of quitting is permanent are low. He’s tried everything. Patches, gum, books, aversion therapy, and my favorite, cold turkey, with its accompanying bitchy mood swings and foul grimace. This time the method is more modern. To be honest, its a bit too new on the market to know what the outcome will be.
It's an electronic cigarette.
Yes, I’m serious. The thing is actually plugged into my laptop charging as I type this. I didn’t even know what to think the first time he attached it to its USB connection. It may also have Bluetooth and be able to turn the cable box on and off, though I’m unsure.
If you aren’t aware electronic cigarettes are the latest in anti-smoking technology. Essentially, it’s a tiny vaporizer composed of a battery and a chamber that holds a nicotine-laced water-based liquid. When you breath air in through the end of the cigarette it passes through the nicotine chamber which superheats it and releases it as vapor into your mouth and lungs where it is absorbed into the blood stream. The vapor is mostly harmless to the lungs (minus, of course, the nicotine itself) and possesses none of the extra toxic chemicals, ash, or heat as smoke from a regular cigarette. The user is rewarded with a dose of nicotine. Furthermore, the feeling and sense of a cigarette is maintained. Vapor is breathed in and out, the motions and feelings are similar; all and all it is supposed to imitate the total experience of a cigarette. BF perkily tweets that the replacement vapor liquid is also far cheaper than actual cigarettes.
Given, the vapor smells a bit like someone left a piece of cheese out overnight, but it is better than the alternative. However, electronic or not, BF still has to smoke it outside.
Still, there does seem to be a stigma about them. A sort of embarrassment. Maybe it’s the fact they whistle a little bit when you use them? Maybe the newness of it all hasn’t been accepted into mainstream?
I noticed this the first time I saw him use it. As we walked down the chilly streets of Sacramento in winter on our way to dinner I wrapped my hands around his arm and snuggled close for warmth. He began to smoke with his free hands and as I looked he seemed to be covering up the cigarette. I would have understood had there been a strong wind or something but there wasn’t so the action seemed odd. Then again, I realized, when did he even light the damn thing? We had only been out of the car for a minute. To do so would require ninja-like stealth and reflexes, of which his are minimal and utilized only in bouts of Call of Duty 3 on the Playstation.
“When did you light a cigarette? What are you smoking?” I asked.
“I didn’t. It’s electric.”
“They make those now? “
“Yep.” He took a puff and the end of the stick began to glow bright neon blue, like the color of a laptop’s power button and with the psychotic brilliance of a road flare.
Oh, did I not mention it glows bright neon blue? Yeah, it’s as if you’re puffing a giant Vegas billboard telling everyone to stare at your once-a-smoker face.
I stared. Then smiled and laughed before looking him in the eyes with what can only be called a look of total smarminess. “You’re hiding the glow from that cigarette aren’t you?”
“…Maybe.” He smiled and rolled his eyes to the side of the other street in the way that one might envision a child who has been playfully caught with a hand in the cookie jar.
We walked a bit farther before I – unable to let something this funny go – continued my harassment. “So what do you call this? If you smoke cloves you’re a hipster. Pot makes you a pothead. Hookahs make you a bored college student in the liberal arts. What do e-cigarettes make you?”
“I dunno. So let’s leave it at that.”
“A faux-douche? Hyper trendy? An overworked Apple employee?”
Boyfriend sighed and put the cigarette back in his pocket and opened the door to the restaurant for me. The proper act of a gentleman that signaled to me that he was gracefully ending the conversation. Darn. As a writer I really wanted a good description for people who used electronic cigarettes.
Lucky for me my friend, Holly, gave me an answer after I recalled my dilemma.
“It’s called being a pussy,” she declared before finishing off her wine.
Maybe so, but at least I’ll give BF credit where credit is due. He is trying again and I’ll do what I can to reward and encourage him. Generally, this means desserts of any sort, though chocolate is preferable. Still, after a few weeks of chocolate-heavy recipe testing I decided to go down a different path and give him something styled and plated. Two things I despise doing for a dessert that I’m not putting together at a restaurant. I hate plating at home. It strikes me as tedious and I’d rather just eat than go for pretty-points.
I went with a simple buttermilk pudding flavored with vanilla bean, topped with a perky step of spiced mango sauce, and diced fresh mango. Easy to prepare and sunny in flavor it seemed to be a polar contrast to the dismal cloud of smoking and the comedown from nicotine addiction. It would, hopefully, brighten his mood and attitude about smoking a bit. (He did suggest topping the pudding with a lit Marlboro Light, but I assured him that the flavor pairing wouldn’t work.)
This dessert is as easy as it comes. There’s only about 5 minutes of actual active work on your part. Either liquids are being cooked, chilled, or strained somewhere in between. It’s a dessert that lets you go about your business as it does its thing. Perfect for lazy cooks like myself.
I'm not sure that pudding can compete with a nicotine vaporizer when it comes to helping someone kick a habit (or start a new one?) but either way, the taste is sensational and certainly worth a go. Plus, no one calls a person who eats pudding a pussy.
Below is the recipe for the spiced mango sauce. My buttermilk pudding recipe can be found at Simply Recipes. My recipe for the compote of dried fruit can be found on Epicurious.
Spiced Mango Sauce
1 ounce fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups mango juice
strip of lime peel
1 cardamom pod, crushed
Put all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or until reduced by half. Strain, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to cool before using on pudding. Hot this sauce is wonderful on pancakes, waffles, or crepes. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.