I was at the saloon, making my hair and with the hair stylist and his apprentices going on about everything and nothing around me. I wasn’t paying any attention. I was tired and hungry and wanted to leave there asap.

Then the guy looked at me and mumbled something about cigarettes and next thing I heard.” You like cigar?? You like cigar abi??”
I looked up at him and said as innocently as taylor swift. “I don’t smoke”.
And he then said ” I was just saying that this guy I just shook hands with had cigarette smoke all over him and now my hands smell like it, I hope your hair doesn’t, and then I was asking if you like cigarette smoke.
I smiled. And he continued with my hair.
But he got me thinking.
You see, the thing is, I actually do smoke. Not because of anything, but I just like the whole “cool” vibe. And since I can’t smoke anywhere but with my friends, I can’t call myself a smoker.
Perhaps I should just say, I know how to puff a cigar convincingly.
Call it peer pressure if you like, but I only really smoke when my friends are smoking. I tried weed. I didn’t like it. And I think that’s where my curiosity ends.
If I ever need a high, alcohol does it. A cigar is sort of like icing to complete the whole veneer.
I don’t know why I denied it. Perhaps its the way Nigerians judge. Eg you’re a girl, if you smoke in public, the way guys see you will be different. That’s my sister when she heard.
Truth is, if I met a guy that thought differently of me because I smoked, then I guess we’re not really going to gel.
My friend calls this my “American orientation”
Maybe it is. Maybe I read too many foreign books and watch too much tv. Maybe I should try and be more African, more Nigerian.
But does that really mean I should start to pretend?? Start to judge people?? Stifle myself and the things I want to try just because I want a husband??
I guess so. Because, this is naija, and stereotypes rule the day. The ethnic ones, the religious ones too.
I don’t know. Does wanting to see what smoking feels like make me a bad person? Or a dumb one?
I’ve read what it feels like. Does wanting to experience it make me bad?? Or maybe morally loose?
Again, maybe its my “American orientation”.
Maybe I should give up. Be the girl everyone wants me to be. And bury myself.

Phoenix Grey


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