Me and Smoking Guy

As I might have already mentioned (several billion times), these days I’m spending an awful lot of time sitting alone at my writing desk (that’s not to say that I’m writing necessarily – but that’s a whole other blog post). Present company includes the automated telesales callers, a cat who stares at me from the wall outside my window and Smoking Guy, who stands next to the wall outside my window, smoking. Occasionally, he stares at me too. Sometimes, I stare at him. It’s becoming a little awkward.

Because I’m so socially starved these days, I’ve become mildly fascinated with smoking guy. Every day, I sit at my desk in pyjamas, every day he stands outside his house in his pyjamas smoking. Usually with bedhead. And wearing flip flops. Neither of us knows what the other does. He doesn’t know that I’m an aspiring writer, I don’t know that he’s… well, I’ve no idea what he is. He rarely leaves the house, except to have a cigarette. And sometimes (as noted on Sunday) to go to the shop to buy more cigarettes.

He always wears flip flops. Whatever the weather, smoking guy consistently wears flip flops and no other footwear.

A month ago it snowed. Not only did Smoking Guy continue to wear his flip flops to smoke outside, he also wore shorts.

One day, I saw Smoking Guy returning to the house sans cigarette, fully clothed in (get this, are you sitting down?) a shirt and v-neck jumper. I was so thrown by his relatively smart getup, that I cannot confirm his footwear. Where had he gone that required such a relatively smart ensemble?

Writer Nick Bryan (who has sadly been landed with many tweets about the daily goings-on of smoking guy) assisted with my speculation on the matter.

Smoking Guy Controversy

Since this discussion, I am partially convinced that smoking guy has a part-time job as a professional smoker. If I see him returning to the house, I automatically assume that he’s coming back from “Casual Smoker” afternoon-shift.

Last week, on a particularly gloomy Friday, I decided to tackle the piles of laundry and ironing that had once again, been mounting up all over the house. With the bedroom light on, and Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits booming out like a 90s disco, I violently ironed through item after item of ridiculously creased laundry whilst simultaneously pulling off some killer, never-before-seen, dance moves. Mid-Thriller-zombie walk to collect more hangers from the wardrobe, I glanced outside to see Smoking Guy observing my every move (both domestic and disco) from beneath his usual nicotine cloud. I hid on the staircase until he had gone back inside.

Yesterday I was washing up, and I think he might of smiled at me, but it’s hard to tell because the only thing I was looking at were his flip flops.

But one thing’s for sure – if this were a Richard Curtis film, six months from now, Smoking Guy would come to my front door, knock on it, and hold up little signs expressing his true feelings for me. Kind of like in that Richard Curtis film, where that guy goes to that girl’s door and holds up signs expressing his true feelings for her.

Except Smoking Guy’s signs wouldn’t say “To me you are perfect” they would say things like “I’ve decided to no longer wear flip flops all the time” or “Have you got a light?” or maybe “It’s time you bought some new pyjamas”.

But this isn’t a Richard Curtis film, and I don’t think Smoking Guy and I will ever communicate, via speech or little cardboard signs we’ve made. However, if me and Smoking Guy were in a sit-com, me and Smoking Guy would probably meet face to face during a mundane domestic task such as taking the rubbish out to the bins. Then we’d be forced to chat. Then we’d make friends, and then constantly be at each other’s houses doing fun stuff like playing Singstar and Wii Bowling or whatever the character’s of Friends or The Big Bang Theory do when they go to each other’s houses.

Except, since the rat incident of early 2011, I no longer take the rubbish out to the bins. Because I’m scared rats. And also, of social interaction.

To conclude, life is not like Richard Curtis films or like sit-coms. As a writer, I’m quite astonished at how long it has taken me to fully realise the differences between life and fiction.

Also, I need to get out more.

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Comments: 12

  1. Nick Bryan (@NickMB) March 13, 2012 at 11:42 am Reply

    Thank god, I was worried that Smoking Guy had vanished. I guess perpetual smoking is a risky lifestyle, cancer-wise. Good to know he’s alive and well and wearing flip-flops.

    • Jo and the Novelist March 14, 2012 at 9:08 am Reply

      You know I like to keep you posted, Nick. But recently it’s just beent the usual standing-outside-and-smoking lark, so there hasn’t been much to report. I’m curious to see what footwear he goes for once (if) we get some warm weather. I’m placing my bet on Ugg boots. But it will probably be flip-flops.

      • Nick Bryan March 15, 2012 at 10:29 am Reply

        Hoping for a nice pair of slipper socks. Maybe he’ll mix it up and start smoking something else. Or take it to the extreme and start shooting up.

  2. WilyGuy March 13, 2012 at 7:01 pm Reply

    It slays me that you’ve got this visual dialog going with someone, but neither feels the need to need sugar (literally, not metaphorically speaking) or an egg.

    WG
    http://itsmynd.com

    • Jo and the Novelist March 14, 2012 at 9:10 am Reply

      I’m pretty sure he only trades in cigarettes and things to light them with. In which case, I can’t help him. If he comes over for either of those, I’ll give him an egg. Or some sugar (literally).

  3. alonewithcats March 14, 2012 at 2:58 am Reply

    I’d stand outside your door with signs that say, “Please turn gay so we can be together,” “Have you turned gay yet so we can be together?” and “Got a light?” Which is *so* weird, because I don’t smoke.

    I stay home alone so much watching Julie Andrews movies that my mom said to me the other day, “I’m worried you’ve developed a Julie Andrews fetish.” BEST COMPLIMENT EVER.

    • Jo and the Novelist March 14, 2012 at 9:16 am Reply

      You know I’ll always be the Poehler to your Fey…

      How many Julie Andrews movies are there? Do you find yourself adopting her ridiculously musical Queen’s English accent after a movie marathon? “Teva, Isabel, could you put on a pot of tea please, my darlings…” I can hear it now.

  4. The Suniverse (@TheSuniverse) March 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm Reply

    Is putting comments on your post the same as holding up cardboard signs about how much I love you? Because it feels like it.

    I want things to work out for you and Smoking Guy – despite the fact that I keep thinking of him as Cigarette Smoking Man from the X Files, who is not super attractive or ethical or nice. So maybe just turn gay for Alone With Cats. I’ve already picked out a wedding gift.

    • Jo and the Novelist March 15, 2012 at 1:10 am Reply

      It’s the same in a digital sense.

      I’m not interested in Smoking Guy in a romantic way. For one thing, I’m pretty sure he’s kind of a hipster. Also, we’re evidently both jobless wasters – so he couldn’t support my writing ambitions, and I couldn’t support his casual smoking profession.

      Do we still get the wedding gift despite the lack of engagement??

  5. Rik March 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm Reply

    Further to the above, you urgently need to do some research re: the Smoking Man from The X-Files.

    Although his dress sense isn’t the same as your neighbour, the whole ‘lurking in the background in a sinister manner while smoking’ is pretty much the same schtick.

    Who knows what kind of evil things he’s plotting on behalf of the government? Also, his signs would say ‘don’t poke your nose into things that don’t concern you, or I might have you killed’.

    • Jo and the Novelist March 15, 2012 at 1:13 am Reply

      Did Smoking Guy seem sinister to you? Hmm. I never thought of that before.

      I just thought he was a hipster with a fondness for bedhead and beach footwear.

      Maybe he is sinister… That’s put a whole new spin on things…

  6. Rik March 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm Reply

    I’ve only seen the early X-Files seasons, but a recurring feature is something sinister/shady going on, and then the camera pans to him overseeing it all while smoking a cigarette. Or sometimes he’s just spying on people from afar.

    It’s a bit weird how he’s just THERE all the time. Like, you’re going about your daily business and then glance out of the window and he’s there, lurking…

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