July 1998
s m u g
by Bob Van Pelt


Rolling Rolling Rolling

So I'm trying to quit. Or at least I'm cutting down dramatically. I don't really want to quit, but I'm afraid that, after about 13 years, it's time. It's not that I'm ever short of breath. I bike and play sports without suffering the least bit. I'm in good health, but I just don't feel immortal anymore. It sort of seems like quitting is the sensible, grown-up thing to do. That, plus the fact that my partner is quitting. During the week I'm actually doing okay, but on weekends, when I step into a bar to drink and play pool, I really get the urge to roll up a fresh Drum and savor it like it was the very first time.

I took up smoking tobacco at the end of my first year in college, right around exam time. I don't want to get into the why or the how, I just did. I started with Camels, then for a while switched back and forth between Gauloise, Gitanes and other, lesser known European brands. I smoked them for no reason, and I never liked the taste, and that is precisely what smoking should be about, no? Taste. So when I tasted my very first Drum, I knew it was right for me.

In fact, I remember putting my nose into my friend's tobacco pouch, and being blown away by the surprisingly sweet and spicy smell of the Drum blend. The olfactory organ never lies. I dare anyone, especially non-smokers, to open up a fresh pack of Drum and smell it. It doesn't hurt and as far as I know it won't give you nose cancer. You will agree that it smells special. It's an adult smell. To be completely honest, Drum smells better than it tastes. At the time I'd been smoking cigarettes for a year or so and I remember thinking: "Wow, if this stuff tastes as good as it smells, I'm sold." As I pointed out, it didn't, but I was sold anyway.

Drum definitely beats the taste of a filter cigarette and, importantly, a much cheaper way of smoking (about $2.35 a pouch, which rolls about 40 mediums), and cost is an important factor. Back in college, as a first-time pre-rolled smoker, I was soon smoking somewhere between 5 and 15 cigarettes a day. Switching to Drum tobacco, I felt I actually smoked less, never more than 5 a day, simply because one hand-rolled Drum would last about three to four times as long as any regular smoke. It gave me much more satisfaction, resulting in a longer pause before my next. You also smoke less because of the rolling ritual, which takes some time, and which is harder to do while, say, walking on the street. [Okay, so you could pre-roll a couple at home; Okay, so you could practice and get really good at rolling and walking, I had a friend who rolled while riding a bike, but please indulge me, dear audience] Also, let's not forget that Drum is pure tobacco. No additives, no chemicals, no bullshit. I don't know what exactly the tobacco companies put in their pre-rolled filter cigarettes, but in my experience, those who smoke them are more addicted than any Drum smoker I ever knew.

And about the actual rolling, let's face it: it's cool. It's about old-fashioned craftsmanship. It's artistic. It takes skill. It's personal. And let me tell you, it becomes a habit as hard to get rid of as the smoking itself. I admit I have a hard time not smoking, but I also have a hard time not rolling! That moment where I pause, not thinking about anything but the custom made cigarette that I'm about to skillfully put together, has a meditative effect on me. The world stops for a moment and becomes a hand rolled piece of art. I've gotten to be really good at it too, and I can now even roll on order. I roll fatties, skinnies, and pointies. I can roll tight or loose. You name it, I'll roll it for you, with love. Quitting that skill makes me sad and it seems like a waste of a talent that I acquired over the period of 13 years of smoking. I've considered the possibility of starting a Drum rolling service, but I doubt if it'll be lucrative. Besides, if I'm really going to quit altogether, it's probably better to completely stay away from the stuff, I guess. It's a good thing my Drum smoking buddy is moving to Hawaii.

Tip: To keep your tobacco fresh longer, put a sliver of potato peel in your pouch, for moisture!



in the junk drawer:

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