in the smoking section

a reflection of a woman in the mirror smoking a cigarette
Photo by Denx arman on

The hostess asks so timidly, holding menus,

‘smoking or non?’ and we go for smoking,

A murky corner where the air is thick

And the coolest kids gather round tables

Tapping ash into chunky ashtrays

While other diners sniff the air

Longing for an open window

Or a warm summer day at picnic tables,

Shaded underneath the parasols.

Such a strange time, looking back,

Where social norms would shock us now,

The pungent smell in smoky hair

And clothes ingrained with unfresh air.

I have seen quite a few films recently where one of the characters is smoking in a restaurant. None of these films feel all that old to me, but it feels shocking to see somebody daring to smoke inside.

It has made me think about how the world can change and how attitudes can change so quickly. And I don’t like the smell of smoke or the thought of breathing in second hand smoke, but I still fondly remember that time when the waitress used to ask ‘smoking or non-smoking?’

I guess it’s that feeling of nostalgia, but I do find it intriguing that I miss something that’s actually a bit disgusting.

When I first left home, I went to London and I worked and lived in a really busy city pub. This was in 2003 and so the pub would be packed with smokers and I just loved that smoky atmosphere and the smell of the cigars that the old men who drank there would puff away on.

My hair and clothes would stink after a long Friday or Saturday night shift and yet I miss that smell. I don’t want them to bring back indoor smoking, but perhaps somebody could invent a car air freshener that smells of pre-2005 pub?

Much Love

Rachel xx

4 thoughts on “in the smoking section

  1. Margot Kinberg

    I’m old enough to remember (I’m old!!) when restaurants, hotels, etc. had smoking and non-smoking sections. So did airlines. Like you, I don’t care for cigarette smoke, and I don’t want to risk second-hand smoke-related disorders, either. But it was a different time, wasn’t it? I had a sense of that not many years ago, when I went to a conference in Spain. As I checked into my hotel, I was asked ‘Smoking or Non-Smoking’ – I went for non-smoking, but still, a bit nostalgic in a weird way.

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