Where there's smoke, there's irony

Below is the front page article from today’s Rapid City Journal.

Smokers, breathe easy!
Lawmakers nix bill to expand ban

RAPID CITY — Black Hills area smokers praised the failure Monday of the apparent final attempt in the Legislature to expand the state smoking ban to businesses that serve alcohol.

I find it endlessly amusing that the headline directs smokers to the one activity they probably can’t do, especially in light of the rest of the article.

I myself am disappointed that the bill didn’t pass, as I am among the few South Dakotans who don’t enjoy smelling like the bottom of a week-old  ashtray every time I go out to a restaurant.   Nevertheless, the defeat of the bill in my notoriously red state is anything but surprising.   This is, after all, the very same legislature who, after citizens voted and shot down a polarizing and clearly unconstitutional attempt to ban all abortions in South Dakota, started off this year’s legislative session with (you guessed it!) a new bill to ban abortions.

Equally unsurprising are the many reasons given for why the ban shouldn’t happen.   For example, the lawmakers who voted against the ban suggested that the government shouldn’t interfere in people’s personal health  issues, even if those personal issues result in physical harm to innocent third parties.   (Except, of course, for personal  female reproductive health issues…   in that case, the government must step in, if only to save those poor, wayward harlots from themselves.   But I digress…)

The other familiar argument came from restauranteurs and bar owners, who speculated  that their businesses would fail, since  people  wouldn’t come if they couldn’t smoke.

Riiiiiiight.

Like every smoker in South Dakota would rather stay home to mix all their drinks and cook all their meals out of sheer spite.    This was, in fact, the  same type of  culinary armegeddon prophesized  in both California and Colorado (two other states I’ve lived in) when those states  considered smoking bans, and while there was a dip in bar business right after their respective bans took place,  the eat-and-drink business in fact eventually  improved as a result of ban: non-smokers started showing up in droves, and smokers were buying more drinks to get their various fixes.   That’s a win-win situation, people.

What is surprising, though, is that, in addition to citing legislators and barkeeps, the article interviews a number “ordinary, guy-on-the-street” smokers,  quoting them for their expansive knowledge.   For example:

“I’m tickled to hear that the bill was shot down,” Spearfish resident Linda Moffett said (who is pictured smoking) as she took her dinner break at Applebee’s Restaurant Moday afternoon.

That tickling you feel is the first stages of emphasemia, dear.

Or how about:

Said Erica Johnson, as she enjoyed a cigarette with her beer at Murphy’s Sports Bar in Rapid City on Monday afternoon: “Smoking is just something that people do in a bar along with their drink.”

As are  projectile vomiting, picking up total strangers and contracting various STDs, I imagine.   Ah, the wisdom of the street.

It’s events like these that remind me that I’m no longer in the forward-thinking, quasi-socialist blue state utopia of California anymore, and I am saddened by that fact.

Then I turn the page of the newspaper and read the following.

Zoo pays $4,500 for monkey feng shui consultant

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Zoo paid $4,500 to an expert in the ancient Chinese art of feng shui to ensure three endangered golden monkeys on loan from China can have a strong life force.

Feng shui is in demand among high-end architects and interior designers, but Beverly Hills-based feng shui expert Simona Mainini said the Los Angeles Zoo’s effort may be a first in animal enclosure design.

“It’s very experimental,” Mainini said. “We don’t have any books on feng shui for monkeys. We just have to assume that Darwin is correct and that there is a connection and what is good for humans is good for monkeys.”

Monkey feng shui consultants?   Forty-five hundred bucks for a spiritually fulfilling and karmically balanced enclosure for a bunch of animals best known for throwing their poo?    Referring to a  Beverly Hills-based Italian architect as an expert in mystical Chinese feng shui?   Using the scientific theory of Darwinian evolution to support monkey interior design?   Darwin?

It’s events like these that remind me that I’m no longer in the forward-thinking, quasi-socialist blue state utopia of California anymore, and I am suddenly overjoyed by that fact.

Smoke ’em if ya got ’em!

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