I took a smoking vacation last weekend—it's the opposite of taking a vacation from smoking. I quit just over three years ago when I started dating my boyfriend, who has never had a cigarette in his life. To him, smoking is not only disgusting by virtue of its stink and residue; I think he finds its utility as a social aid borderline disturbing. It's true. If alcohol is a social lubricant, cigarettes are the gears that slide to and fro against it, keeping the night moving.
My friend Andrew wrote a very accurate play-by-play of the evening here, although the lithe antipathy of his pen is kind of masking the shuffling awkwardness with which we both moved through it. Neither of us really knew what to expect. "I have to go to this art thing tonight" he said "wanna come with?" It was certainly a thing, having much to do with art, but it had the darkly familiar feeling of the kind of Hollywood parties I frequented in order to distract myself during a particularly aimless and unproductive time in my life. We leaned against the wall, neither of us smokers, but both smoking to pass the time and make sense of what we had just seen / were seeing, most of which was celebrities and cameras and glad-handing men in suits with wet play-doh complexions; the calling card of face creams that cost more than your rent. Someone left an interesting comment in response to Andrew's article:
...[is there no] space to mention of any of the artwork? Only talk of the douche-in-suit glamor? [The] Douglas Gordon video was breathtaking, Aaron Young's videos as well. Andrew, aren't you doing a disservice to the artists by feeding into the perceived emptiness and not addressing the content, even if it is problematic?
By the time we reach bungalow one at the Chateau, I've had enough drinks and tiny crab things to genuinely enjoy myself. The cigarette gears were steadily turning, and as expected, the exchange and consumption of them led to some great conversations (just don't ask me to remember them). When I stepped gingerly up to the bar for what I decided would be my final drink, I spotted Mr. Ruscha himself standing next to me. I was just sober enough to not reach out and touch him, but I wanted some proof that he was real and not a hologram reproduced with permission from the artist. Waiting out the cold at the end of the night, the valet was taking longer than usual because Andrew lost his ticket. I shook my pack of cigarettes. I heard the last few shuffling around, but threw them out before getting in the car. There was no use for them anymore.