“Do you have a light?” A friendship ignited. In the Bates courtyard, there exists a magical bench that facilitates one of the many subcommunities on Wellesley’s campus: the smoking community.
Upon arriving at Wellesley from a high school that prohibited smoking of any kind on or around the school’s campus, I told my friend, currently studying abroad in France, of this phenomenon that I could see from my window.
“Well duh,” she said. “The smokers bench is the coolest place to hang out at any college. Scientifically proven, swear to God.”
At the beginning of fall semester, many student athletes arrive on campus early for pre-season, making their friends before classes even begin. But the recruitment process for the smokers bench is different. In fact, the season starts 2 weeks later as one by one, connections are made and the congregating begins – post-meals, premeals, with meals, so long as the weather is pleasant.
At the start of the season, labels are applied. She rolls, she tries to roll, hers are imported from France, that’s the one who only smokes Nat Shermans after Sunday brunch. But you will soon come to find that fluidity is inherent in this sport – rolling technique improves, lighters are passed around, people quit and people join, and even though you’ve always identified as the yellow American Spirit type, you won’t be surprised when you’re rolling a golden Shag Boge next week. Just watch your back: there’s only so much room, and you want to be benched. Let it be said, however, that the bench is a place where class lines are blurred, freshman, junior, senior, sophomore. Back in the fall, one student from the class of 2020 spoke about her apprehension concerning the fast approaching winter months, something she does not have to prepare for at home: “I talked to one of my friends who studies in New York City, and she told me that she has learned to smoke with no hands in the winter months.”
I had a conversation with the same student this past week, during which she revealed that she’s cut back her cigarette intake, and will only smoke one her way to class, for fear of frostbite. Another student, class of 2018, said that she quits completely in the winter, unless she’s presented with an opportunity to light up indoors. Some wonder whether this brief hiatus might affect the results of spring semester tryouts.
For future reference and scouting purposes, here are some generic profiles of smokers you might encounter during the warm months.
- The Euro Smoker: Typically rolls her own cigarettes in an elegant and efficient manner and is happy to roll you one if you’re funny.
- The Alternative (American) Smoker: Grew up on anti-smoking propaganda but developed the habit because of Holden Caulfield or Kate Moss. Is not completely opposed to spliffs.
- The Closet Smoker: Usually smokes alone, but when approached is glad to tell her story to a receptive audience.
- The Social Smoker: Smokes several cigarettes a week, for pleasure, usually while drinking.
- The Broke Smoker: “Spare one?”