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Jewish World Review August 27, 2002 / 19 Elul, 5762

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

No smoking --- I love you | I am not pro-smoking. I gave it up 18 years ago, but I think New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and taverns is going too far.

It is not the question of health for the employees who work in these places. I have no argument with that.

But the danger is that it could change the mating habits of the singles class as we know it.

The cigarette has always been the easiest way for two people to meet in a bar.

Man: "Would you like a light?"

Woman (if she likes him): "Yes, I would."

Man lights cigarette.

If the lady refuses, the man keeps offering to light anyone until he finds someone who wants to be lit.

A woman can start a conversation with a stranger by saying, "Do you have a cigarette? I just ran out."

"Wait," the man says excitedly. He runs to the cigarette machine and brings back a pack.

Man: "I hope this is your brand."

Woman: "It will do."

Man: "I have an idea I got from a Paul Henreid movie. I'll light both, then I'll give you one and I'll smoke the other."

Woman: "But I don't know you well enough to have my cigarette on your lips."

Man: "Trust me."

The cigarette is what brings people together and what makes them say goodbye.

When you see a lady in a bar laughing at a stupid joke or showing her nail polish to the man/boy next to her, you can guess something is going to happen between them. Who can forget "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"?

On the other hand, if you see a woman talking angrily, her tears pouring over her cigarette, and he is angrily putting his out in the ashtray, you are probably witnessing a breakup at a bar.

This is known by bartenders as "cigarette rage." When a bartender senses it's going to happen, he removes the woman's glass before she throws the contents in the man's face.

Then there's the lone smoker. He usually sits at the end of the bar with a cigarette hanging from his mouth, staring into his drink, waiting for the bar to close so he can go out in the street and have another cigarette.

Now here's the part I haven't mentioned. A couple pairs off and they reach the stage of "your place or mine?"

After they get to the apartment, they discover there are no butts in the house. The panic-stricken couple stops smooching on the couch. The lady says, "I can't kiss without a cigarette."

The crestfallen man says, "Neither can I."

The evening is over.

I'm not trying to be dramatic, but Bloomberg is really interfering with romance.

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08/01/02: Damage control
08/01/02: Another icon
07/30/02: Draft all the lawyers
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07/23/02: Doin' time
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07/16/02: Money as a game
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06/13/02: The Accused
06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
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03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

© 2002, TMS