A very reliable source from City Hall has informed me that the City Council is planning a proposal which, if passed,
would make apartment buildings smoke free. This would effectively ban cigarette smokers from lighting up in the confines
of their apartments, since said apartment would be within the confines of the smoke free building Code. I asked several
cigarette smokers in Bryant Park about this and most of them shrugged. One asked how they could possibly tell if she lit a
cigarette in her apartment, while another complained about the strain it would put on his marriage.
"Huh?" I asked. I wasn't exactly sure what smoking cigarettes in an apartment had to do with a marriage.
"Surveys say," he began, "that sex is 50% of a relationship. My wife and I make love four times a week.
When we're done, we reach for a smoke and we don't even really smoke. But we do smoke after we make love.
It would be difficult. We would make love and either have to get dressed and go outside and smoke, or give up
smoking. If we go outside and smoke, we then have to go back inside, get undressed and cuddle. It would mess
up the whole mood."
"You'd have to give up the cigarette." I said.
"Look, dude. You get into a marriage and you get used to doing something a certain way.
You get comfortable with the marriage, the routine. You don't do anything unpredictable, or, different.
It's what keeps it going, you know. I don't know if we could make love anymore."
I nodded. I didn't think I could say anything to that, or, anything I said to that might have gotten
me hit the face, or something. So, I just nodded and walked away.
My source was reluctant to meet with me and openly discuss this proposal. He was
terribly concerned about retaliation from City Hall. I promised to keep my source anonymous
, swearing on a stack of bibles, but it wasn't until I promised to disguise his voice for this article,
that he agreed to meet with me.
"This is serious," 'Helga' (not his real name) began. "It's going to lead to a whole slew of changes
for people renting and buying apartments, in New York City."
"Someone asked me a really good question," I said. "She wanted to know how anyone would
know if she lit up a butt in her apartment."
"That's a no-brainer," Helga said. "Every room of every apartment would have a smoke detector,
like the ones in airplane bathrooms, that would send a signal to a monitor. You set off that signal,
you have effectively broken the terms of your lease. They'll start eviction proceedings in no time
at all and you'll lose your deposit. You think you're safe in a condo? Forget about it. The
Condo Board will have your condo sold out from under youin less time than it takes to shake
out a match. You won't have a leg to stand on."
"Isn't this a serious assault on some of our basic freedoms, like the right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness?"
"It's worse," Helga said. "City Council members are envisioning things like 'The Sinatra.' 'The Single,' 'The Rap-free-by-the
Sea.' There's no end to what they're talking about in terms of improving quality of life living?"
"What the hell is the Rap-free-by-the-sea?"
"Condo's in the Bronx overlooking the Hudson and built for those who hate rap music. You get to live in a dwelling
where you'll never hear the thump of rap at home, again."
"Can you smoke in them?"
"Don't be naive," Helga said.
"What's the single?"
"A whole projected borough. They're talking Queens. One bedrooms for unmarried only, ages 20 through 55.
Over 55's get their own buildings, being built by the drug companies. Those makers of Viagra have already bought
up a whole block."
"Does this include divorcees?"
"They're single," Helga said. "Aren't they?"
"What about the Sinatra?"
"A block in Staten Island."
"All this," I said. "Just to make apartment buildings smoke free?"
"Yes," Helga said. "Think of it. The possibilities for niche living are endless. But, it'll never work."
"What do you mean?"
"Are you a smoker?"
"Yes." I said. I couldn't lie, although I wasn't sure I'd ever have a place to light up again.
"There's a building going up in Brooklyn. I'm not saying who is building it. You're not getting any of that out of me.
But, it's going to be called, 'The Doral'."
"Really?" I asked. "Is there one called the Marlboro?"
"There's a Marlborough Road, isn't there?"
"Well, yeah, but-"
"But nothing," Helga said. "Just look at all the construction going on in this town.
Coporations are through buying radio stations, buddy. It's housing.
That's where the future lies. Niche housing. Besides, the banks are almost giving them away."
I lit up a cigarette and pondered the situation. Anybody out there from Missouri?