1. Use the ashtrays, guys.
They’re circular. They’re ceramic. They’re built into your desks.
2. Glass hookahs are no longer allowed in this classroom.
I’ve taught this course barefoot for three and a half years, and until this semester, I’d never sustained a smoking-related injury. Then students started bringing their hookahs to class. They’re big. They’re glass. They shatter. Listen, if you’re that committed to the purity of the sweet flow of the glass-hookah smoke, put it back in your canvas gym bag and take it to a school where teachers wear shoes.
3. No more candy-flavored cigarettes.
An old colleague of mine at Amherst once told me, “If it smells like an adolescent prostitute, then it’s probably art history at Oberlin College.” That comment really irked me, but not as much as the effluvium of fruit fudge that’s been hovering above my overhead for the past couple years. Getting to a point where I can actually break it apart a bit would be fabulous.
4. No sprinkling of pot, PCP, or shamanistic ethnobotanicals onto the ends of your cigarettes.
I understand that you’re all here to expand your horizons, and I’m with you on that, but I’m confident you can do so without smoking an Old Gold seasoned with Indian dream resin. If it’s a journey of enlightenment you seek, then please think of me as your personal Sherpa, a wise and experienced guide whose pay is so meager that he also sells dreamcatchers by the highway to pay for gasoline.
5. Do not ask me for cigarettes, and, after I tell you I don’t have any, do not leer at my vest pocket looking for the outline of a pack.
What will happen if you do, in fact, see that I am “holding”? Will it rouse you to engage with my lectures on rococo? Will it make you consider the impact of Grandma Moses? Or will it only make you slobber in your seat, and make your eyes glaze over, and make your jaw faintly slacken when I absently fondle my chest?
6. Be aware of where you blow your smoke.
Some people believe that smoke follows beauty, but experience has taught me that it follows the nonsmoker. In order to accommodate Oberlin’s lone nonsmoker, Gary DePressa of 2646 Nebbish Promenade, please make an effort to blow smoke toward open windows and air vents, so Gary DePressa, nonsmoker extraordinaire and proud of it, can feel comfortable.
7. Smoke expensive cigars at your own risk.
Smoking an expensive cigar will be recognized as a symbolic gesture aimed to undermine authority, and will result in either swift dismissal from the class or an encouraging slap on the back, depending not only on the swerve of pedagogical theory at the time but also on whether my last infusion of nicotine has truly “kicked in.”
8. Smoking and eating at the same time is strongly discouraged.
Unless you’re a cigar-chomping billionaire about to sink your teeth into a bloody Angus steak, please refrain from doing this. It doesn’t look nearly as impressive when you’re double-fisting astronaut snacks and Parliament snipes.
9. Smoke rings are no longer allowed in this classroom.
In light of Oberlin’s recent rejection of Raphaelite concepts of perfection and clarity, our provost has cleared me to dash apart perfect smoke rings with my wooden pointer. Although I imagine that to you it must look like a Sherpa’s magnificent woven cane.
10. Students who cough repeatedly will be asked to leave until they can compose themselves.
For helpful tips on how to do so, please visit Oberlin’s Student Oasis-Quad and pick up an illustrated tract called “The Coward Who Couldn’t Breathe.” This booklet will teach you effective breathing exercises that will strengthen your lungs until they’re as strong as those of an everyday smoker. And don’t worry, Gary. I won’t tell anyone.