Listen up, Americans. Despite what your 3rd grade D.A.R.E. counselor may have told you, smoking is cool and, yes, it kind of makes you look like a movie star. I wish I could pull it off, but there’s a problem: smoking literally makes me feel like I’m going to die. Not so much in the moment, but more so the day after when I wake up wondering if I’ve swallowed a cauldron full of battery acid.
I also never really got into smoking because of a little “challenge” initiated by my father. When my eldest brother became a smoker at the tender age of seventeen—he fell victim to Euro peer pressure while traveling in Spain—my dad made a deal with my other brother and me: if we reached age 21 without becoming smokers, he would give us $1000. Sweetness! I think he’d had a few too many bloody marys when he issued this challenge, but so be it.
Anyway, 21 rolled around and my lungs remained, for the most part, unscathed. (I inhaled a butter-rum Lifesaver once). Curiously, the $1000 never materialized, but then again, neither did a smoking addiction. So I guess it was a win-win. False promises save lungs.
And now, while I would like to get really self-righteous about the importance of not smoking, my non-smoker status is less a responsible choice than it is a biological necessity. So my conundrum: what to do during the numerous cigarette breaks that inevitably occur over the course of a bar-hopping evening?
Option 1: I can stay inside the bar and hang out with the loser non-smokers.
Option 2: I can concoct a strategy that will afford me access to international smoking circles without sacrificing the sanctity of my lungs.
Option 2 it is. I’ve come up with a clever little trick: faux smoking… “fauxking” if you will (pronounced foh-king). I know it sounds sexual, but don’t get excited—it’s not.
Fauxking: the art of pretending to smoke (ideally in a highly pretentious, blasé manner) without actually committing the filthy act.
I first began to understand the concept when Bill Clinton famously admitted to fauxking marijuana, and I have since adopted the strategy and tailored it to my own social needs.
Word to the wise: fauxking takes determination, intense focus, and hours of practice. You can’t just go for it without proper training. As you might imagine, getting caught pretending to smoke is a LOT less cool than having refrained from smoking in the first place.
There is a time and a place. Let me explain.
Appropriate use of fauxking: Friday night, I fauxked my way through two cigarettes outside of a bar because I was with a friend who needed a smoking buddy. I was discrete, and therefore successful. The trick is to take a small amount of smoke into the mouth and then CALMLY shoot it out the side in one smooth stream. If you are making a chipmunk face, you are doing it wrong, and you are likely making a true ass of yourself.
Appropriate use of restraint: Later that night, I ended up at Le Baron. Luckily, there were no Olsen twins in sight; otherwise I would have been turned away like the riffraff that I am. But on this night, we triumphed; and then came time for the requisite smoking session outside. I considered fauxking for a brief moment, and then the terror of being caught in the act outside of one of Paris’ ultimate cool-kid establishments made me reconsider. Visions of being confronted—“Qu’est-ce que tu fais avec cette cigarette?”… “What cigarette… oh this cigarette? I’m smoking, see? I’m smoking, I promise.”—saved me from what could have been the ultimate shame: the fauxking call-out.
Then again, sometimes when I’m with people who already know how weird I am, I’ll just announce, “I really want a cigarette but I’m going to fake inhale, ok?” If they judge, then maybe these are not worthwhile friends. And if they go with it, I know they’re the real deal. In this sense, the art of fauxking doubles as a social barometer.
Ok… this is spiraling out of control. Just know that if you don’t want to smoke, there’s always the option to fauxke. Or, if you’re normal, I suppose you could do nothing at all.