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Memories and Zippo Lighters
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
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.