God, I love to smoke. There are a lot of things I enjoy in life - a good piece of classical philosophy, a nice fat brook trout on the end of my line, a thoughtful conversation with an attractive woman - but the one thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is a stick of North Carolina's finest tobacco.
I was born at the tail end of the smoking craze, and came of age during the 90s, when public sentiment concerning smoking was changing rapidly.
What used to cost me $3 a day is now nearing $8 and every day I see another drastically hyperbolized commercial about someone missing fingers or limbs - allegedly because of smoking cigarettes.
They never do say whether or not the unfortunate individual in these commercials has other ailments as well - type II diabetes maybe?
I am aware of the carcinogenic effects of smoking. Research suggests that smoking cigarettes acts as a mutagen, altering the P53 tumor suppressor gene which regulates cell suicide.
Without cell suicide - apoptosis - rogue cells are free to reek havoc on the body. We call this state of rogue cell dominance cancer.
Humanity has always had fascination with death, it is the great unknown - the unobservable universal end for us all. But there seems to be an equally powerful and associated fascination with defeating the grim reaper. We constantly seek methods to extend our lives out of fear of the end of all experience. We continually seek the unattainable - immortality.
The smoking issue is just one example of our current society's obsessive pursuit of cleanliness. We assume sanitary conditions are more healthy than 'dirty' ones.
Numerous industries have made millions over this fear, pushing hourly-use hand sanitizers and drugs for just about every odd bodily activity one can conceive of.
The odd thing about this being that without exposure to outside invaders like bacteria, our immunity system only stands to be weakened. We just may be an 'over-sanitized' people.
This pursuit of cleanliness hasn't only become pervasive in our physical life-ways, but also in our abstract institutional behavior.
There was a time when Ty Cobb sharpening his spikes or Cy Young greasing a baseball was considered gamesmanship.
These days the mood has changed. Instead of a romanticized sporting demi-gods, Young or Cobb would be considered cheaters who weren't willing to play by the sanitary rules.
I mean, they are after all role models for our kids aren't they?
Yes folks, we are now in the era of the clean and I am not sure old Louis Pasteur would be impressed.
Locally, the annual White Water Derby is ran, but our fascination with the clean - with the nonoffensive - has ripped the guts out of that too.
I knew Chuck Severance throughout my youth and I am not sure he would want such a sterile event named after him.
In his day, the point was to get good and intoxicated and watch people flounder in the rapids.
It seems everything, and I mean everything must be 'family friendly' these days.
A couple weeks ago, I read a story about peoples' outrage over some kids smoking marijuana at a rock concert in Glens Falls. People honestly were surprised such behavior went on.
Is this the same generation who patroned Woodstock or bought millions of copies of Led Zepplin albums?
Just maybe not everything has to be so clean and nonoffensive. Throughout history, offensive behavior has driven innovation and seminal cultural events.
As we continually regulate ourselves and especially the youth, we must keep in mind that not everything is so clean.
Do we really want a bunch of sterile robots, unable to draw from their own experinces?
Sometimes, there is nothing healthier than rocking the proverbial boat.
Yes, I sure do love to smoke, but unfortunately like so many other things it is becoming a luxury of the wealthy. And I guess that is a good thing because I might set a poor example for someone else's child or at least not live forever.
Jonathan Alexander is News Enterprise editor. He can be reached at email@example.com