Je Suis Margot Tenenbaum: Confessions of a Secret Cigarette Fiend

Published on March 30th, 2009 in: Issues, Smell-O-Rama |

By Emily C.

Welcome to Cigarette Fiends Anonymous. My name is Emily C., and I am a secret smoker.

I do it much in the same way that Margot Tenenbaum does in the Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums. I sneak out alone by the swimming pool at my apartment building and ever so discreetly fill my lungs with nicotine-laced goodness. I do it at night and at that location so no one can see me. It is just not elegant to be seen smoking in public.

margot tenenbaum

I am known to hide my cigarettes in odd places like under my couch and in old, unused purses. I guess that makes me a straight-up cigarette fiend. One day the holes in my lungs will thank me for this admittedly bad and physically harmful habit. Like Margot, all of this nonsense started when I was about 12.

It has become completely politically incorrect and socially inappropriate to smoke in public in America. Not too long ago, I lit up outside of the local shopping mall. A father and his young daughter were fast approaching the mall entrance; I attempted to divert my Parliament Ultra Lights smoke as far away from them as possible. However, I couldn’t help but overhear the father’s not-so-subtle, not-quite-out-of earshot remarks to his little girl, “God that smells so disgusting.” I quickly—and violently—stubbed out the cigarette and made a beeline to my car, which remains a smoke-free area (I refuse to smoke inside my car—I don’t want the interior to smell like stale ashes). I also will not smoke inside my apartment; the acrid smell of old, stale cigarette butts is certainly not enticing.

In America, the effect of smoking bans has been unilateral and quite strict. Most local bars in my area are completely smoke-free. Restaurants no longer have smoking sections. Even the local airport has closed its “yellow room” (lovingly named because it was stained from all of the nicotine). One can still smoke at clubs, but it’s a bit difficult to burn one while you’re attempting to booty dance to some bad Akon song. Even so, lighting one up on the dance floor will invite at least a few dirty looks. Smoking bans have been somewhat effective in America, at least in public. Obviously, the serious smoker will scope out other creative and more private locations in which to delve happily into their dirty little habit.

jean seberg
Jean Seberg
“Smoking is bad. . .
but glamorously bad.”

In Europe, the general attitude about smoking is much more permissive. I believe France attempted to institute a smoking ban in restaurants and clubs, but people just ignored it; their smoking ban failed completely. Europeans generally view Americans as being too straight-laced about the pleasures of smoking. When I was in England a few years ago, I went to a club and bummed a cigarette—a Marlboro Light—from a cool Englishman. He looked totally shocked and said to me, “You’re the only American I’ve ever seen smoke.”

But I digress. Why do I—or other people—smoke? Nicotine, strangely enough, is a stimulant meant to keep you on the move, and it is insanely addicting. As a secret (or now not-so-secret) smoker, it actually relaxes me and helps me think when my brain is blocked. Obviously there is the addiction component as well. . . I do enjoy the smell of smoke and find it kind of dark, mysterious, and intoxicating. I also like fragrances which have a tobacco-ish hint to them. One of my favorite fragrances, Cabochard by Grès (featured in the “Iconic Scents of the Seventies” article in this issue of Popshifter), starts out as a “green” smelling fragrance, but dries down to a tobacco-esque finish. This fragrance isn’t for everyone, but I find it most interesting and glamorous. I love the way it smells on my clothes and jackets.

I hope to quit this habit in the next year or so, because I am more than well aware of its deleterious effect upon the human body. But I admit—unashamedly—that I adore the smell of cigarette smoke, because it is spicy, deep, and pungent (very much the same way I like my fragrances). Here’s hoping that one day—SOON—someone will invent a “safe” cigarette without nicotine or carcinogenic agents which won’t give you awful maladies, tastes fantastic, and smells just like the real thing. I feel as if tobacco companies just know (well, OF COURSE they know) that certain people cannot resist the 400+ chemicals in cigarettes. I must add, they have certainly been successful in their devious mission.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article does NOT directly endorse cigarette smoking or beginning a cigarette smoking habit. If you do not smoke, PLEASE stay smoke free.

2 Responses to “Je Suis Margot Tenenbaum: Confessions of a Secret Cigarette Fiend”

  1. JL:
    March 31st, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I’ve been smoke-free for over 2 months…and this makes me want to smoke badly! 😉

  2. Popshifter:
    March 31st, 2009 at 10:55 am



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