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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Dear Marlboro Man,

Ours has been a long love affair. I started sneaking around with you when I was fourteen, because you were cool and intimidating and made my peers think I was an independent, grown up individual. My friends at the time all pretty much liked you, too, and those who didn’t I figured were just jealous, because they weren’t brave enough to hang out with you. You were so versatile – with your help I could express anger, frustration, sultriness, power or disappointment so much better. You helped me be strong and look tough in the face of adversity. You were always such a great support and I really thought you were the greatest thing to ever happen to me. My family didn’t approve of you, but we were young, and of course if they didn’t like you it was just because they didn’t want me to have any fun at all.

Through my early adult years, you were always there to help me through. Several relationships came and went, and they never minded that you were in the picture, always the other man. You stood by me even as they left me. I could always count on you to make me feel better if I was sad, or angry or anxious. If I had a rough day, you were there to pick me up. You helped me make new friends easily – I could always spot a crowd of people I knew I would fit in with because I could tell we already had something in common. You. You were so well connected – it’s amazing how many people know you. And you’re so well loved – we could always start a conversation about you. Imagine how just one common connection could unite so many people. And your friends were so loyal to you – if anyone ever said anything negative, we would always be right there to defend you and tell them what we thought of their opinions. They didn’t know you like we did.

But somehow, after 22 years, you’re starting to get on my nerves. I can’t get a moment alone without you. You have to tag along everywhere I go and if I try to leave home without you I end up running back because I feel you calling me. Urgently. Incessantly. You ruin my vacations – my family still doesn’t like you and I have to sneak away to spend time with you, but they always know where I’ve been and they try not to let me see their disappointment, but I know it’s there. Some of my friends don’t like you anymore and they don’t understand why I still hang around with you. Some of my friends do still like you, and they can’t understand why I’d want to get rid of you. I’m always defending you. You make me go outside with you in the summer when it’s too hot, and in the winter when it’s too cold.

You’re an evil, greedy, controlling son of a bitch. You take my money, you ruin my clothes, you smell bad and I smell bad by association. You commandeer my time; you make me follow your schedule, regardless of my plans. You interfere with my daily activities – you even interrupt me in the middle of movies, making me miss important plot lines because I’m thinking about you. Nothing is sacred to you. You even decreased the value of my car.

Worst of all, you’re a murdering bastard. I know this – everyone knows this. And yet you still walk free. People go with you willingly. You’re the worst sort of serial killer – your victims want to go with you, and even though they know you are going to kill them, they would rather die with you than without you.

I’m leaving you. Oh, make no mistake – I’m going to cry and yell and tell everyone it’s their fault that you’re gone. I’m going to be crabby and I’m going to think about you all the time, but if I got over the other men in my life, you can be damn sure I’ll get over you, too. I know I’m going to think about coming back to you, and while I’m walking out I might even run back for a hug or two, but eventually I’m going to slam that door, and buddy, don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out.

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