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Memories and Zippo Lighters

Updated on July 22, 2009

I suffer from nostalgia. Those of you unfamiliar with the term might mistake that for some neurological disease resulting in memory problems but it's the exact opposite. I remember the past and I remember it fondly. I also remember it at strange times and for no apparent reason. Ten minutes ago, I found myself nostalgic for Zippo lighters.

I know smoking has fallen largely out of favor in the US and I'll be the first to agree that's a good thing, but I'm still struggling with the addiction. Kids, don't start. Even if your pals look cool doing it, I promise you they'll regret it in the future and so will you. And then, like so many of us, you'll find yourself fighting one of the toughest battles of your life as you try to break the habit.

Someday, if (when) I manage to quit, I'll write a "Stop Smoking Now" hub, but I'm in no position to pretend to be an authority on the subject. I could write a hell of a lot about what doesn't work, though. But I'm losing the point again, which is that I miss the one Zippo lighter I ever owned.

See kids, back when smoking was cool (yes, there was such a time) the coolest of the cool didn't flick a Bic. Disposable lighters were available then, sure. We'd often use them to light candles and incense around the cave after a tough day riding our dinosaurs. But for impressing your pals while killing yourself with tar and nicotine, only a Zippo lighter would do. Not only were we bad asses whilst smoking, we preempted our badassness with cool Zippo lighting techniques such as the snap-open, the slap-open-and-light and the uber-cool, one handed, flip-open-and-light-in-one-motion technique. Yeah, we rocked.

We did all of this while wearing leather jackets and standing around doing largely nothing but being very rebellious about the whole thing despite not really having anything to be rebellious about. The modern day equivalent of this is the suburban-raised, filthy rich gansta rapper. So tough. So angry. Don't be late with his soy latte or his limo driver might put a cap in you.

Anyway, my friends and I all had our own special Zippo lighters. Some of us had engraved Zippo lighters. I fell in the latter category though mine wasn't really mine. It belonged to my father, a former smoker, who must have received it as a gift or recognition for some performance while in the service. Proudly emblazoned on the front was the emblem of the command in which he served, his name and rank engraved on the back.

I used my father's Zippo lighter until the day he passed away. It subsequently found its way into a drawer as it brought back some tough memories. Several moves later I can't find the thing and very much wish I could because it is a touchstone to my past. Details slowly fade, memories grow misty, but just holding that lighter always reminded me of good times. The kind you don't get from a disposable lighter.

If you have a friend or family member who smokes, the best gift you could give them would be to help them quit. If that's impossible, if they simply aren't ready yet, maybe an engraved Zippo lighter might be a gift they'll cherish. After twenty years without mine, I still remember the feel of it in my hand, the smell of the fluid, and the distinct sound of the top flipping open. The only time I've ever missed a disposable lighter is when I needed one to light a cigarette and couldn't find one.

It isn't about smoking or better health. It's about creating memories. Thanks, Dad, for the good memories we shared. I'm sorry I lost your Zippo lighter. More sorry than I ever imagined I would be.

Incidentally, I'd love to hear from others who have some weird little item that brings back past memories (good or bad) for you. Whatever it is, leave a comment and let me know.


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    • ZippoLighterFanat profile image

      ZippoLighterFanat 8 years ago

      I just bought my first Zippo. It has an embossed rattle snake on it. I took our the insert and replaced it with a torch insert so that I can better light my cigars! I hope to have it for a long time and pass it on when I have someone to pass it to.