SMOKE: The End

Originally published: 17 August 2007

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

- The Doors, "The End", 1967

So here we are, you and I.

I know who I am but I have no idea who you are. You could be someone I know. You could be someone who hates me. You could be someone who is reading the words I write for the first time, or you could be someone who's read them for the last six years.

You could be someone I've fought with, or possibly someone who - unbeknownst to you - touched me profoundly in some way.

You could be the bastard who stole my first Zippo on that cold and lonely September night eight years ago, when I was working the late shift at the online casino support centre in Seapoint.

You could even be Jesus. If you are - who stole that lighter, dude? You're omnissi....ominisci....that thing whereby you can check out everything that's happening in the world all at the same time. Sylar's got nothing on you, man. Who stole the fucking lighter?

The fucker shall rue the day.

Jesus aside - the point I'm driving at is that as you read these words you and I are connected in some way, whether we like it or not. Thoughts conjured up in my head are now in yours, which is nothing a bottle of Jack, five reefers and two blondes can't cure.

In a similar fashion I have been connected by thousands of different tenuous strands to thousands of different people over the last six years on TT, and the severance of all that with the closing of TT is both a cruel and beautiful thing.

To break a promise, I'm not going to get into all the reasons for the closure of TT - Tashi's already pretty much explained it on the forum, in typically haphazard but heartfelt fashion.

I'm also not going to pontificate about what could have or should have been, nor the state of the world, nor the triumph of the human spirit. I'll leave Nkosi Johnson out of it, I'll desperately avoid the ever-dangerous Ghandi-quote, and the only passing reference to the myriad of possibilities we have for our lives will be this one.

What I will talk about, however, is tits.

Not breasts - those belong in sensible blouses and family shows, and are never referred to in polite company for fear of perverting the little children with their insinuations and lies.

Not sweater-puppies neither - those belong to Internet geeks who've seen plenty of 'em but who have yet to gain any personal experience with them.

Knockers drum up connotations of drunken divorcees at the theatre, melons are for those who've never gently squeezed one and delighted in the exquisite pliability, while funsacks suggest dissatisfied wives bulging through spandex, leering insanely at you as they torure their own pierced areolae for your amusement.

Nah. Tits, dude. Chicks have 'em, okes want 'em, and there's always a price to pay.

A final anecdote from my oft-troubled yet surprisingly survivable youth, to illustrate my point:

When I was but a lad - around 11 or 12, is my best guess - I was nearing the end of junior school.

Being an inmate of Christian Brothers College, Mt Edmund, Pretoria, I'd learned a few things, including how to run the two-minute mile with a sweaty Irish Brother in pursuit, how to get away with farting anonymously in class (blame the Chinese guy from Hammanskraal), and how to make the right choice when it came to choosing the cane of your beating (always select the hollow PVC pipe, rather than the solid bamboo or doweling rod).

I also picked up the inevitable schoolboy slang, which unsurprisingly contained the word "tits" amongst its unsophisticated lexicon.

Being an older brother to a much younger brother (seven years younger than me), no doubt I explained to him precisely what tits were. In my defence, he was 4 or 5 at the time - I saved him a decade or so of referring to them as sweater-puppies.

I don't remember any of this, but it's the only explanation for what happened next.

I had a bunk bed in my room, and naturally I had the top bunk. The top of the wall my bunk was attached to had a series of windows overlooking the passage, which I could peer through from my bunk.

Seventies architecture, man - you gotta see it to believe it.

I was reading a book on my bed when I heard a conversation between my little brother and my mother going on in the passage. Craning to peek through the window, I saw him standing in front of my mother, his hands clasped suggestively in front of his chest.

"What are these called?" he asked, experimentally - almost lovingly - squeezing his own imaginary tits.

"What are what?" fired back my mother, buying herself time as she always did when tricky questions were asked, a steady blush starting to spread across her forehead.

"These" came the earnest reply, accompanied by feverish air-pumping which couldn't be mistaken for anything other than a violent mauling of a pair of fairly large tits.

My mother huffed and puffed a bit, slightly embarrassed, before telling him haltingly that what she thinks he's referring to are "breasts".

"All women have them - they're called breasts. Why do you ask?"

The answer, to his credit and my dismay, was refreshingly direct and honest.

"Luke says they're called tits."

To understand my horror at that utterance one should understand that back then my family was highly conservative when it came to sexual matters - sex was taboo, and never discussed.

The word "tits" rang out, down the corridor, out the front door, down Farnham Rd and out into the suburbs before heading south, hopping in a boat and sailing to all four corners of the globe, carrying my shame.

As one both my mother and brother seemed to sense my presence, and with infinite care both sets of eyes raised upwards to catch me staring down in horror from my weird window-above-the-bunk, my face ghastly and pale in the half-light.

"Oh he does, does he?" came the inevitable rhetorical question from my mother, before she quietly told the young 'un to retire to his room and shut the door.

This shit was going to get ugly, and it did, it did. I've pretty much been in trouble ever since.

You're probably wondering what this has got to do with TT closing down - is he trying to convey some sort of subtle message? If so, I'm not getting it - I'm still imagining wives in spandex with clothespegs attached to their nipples.

Don't worry - there's no message. There's no point. There's no revelation or surprise twist to wrap it all up.

It's simply a story by me, about me, and the only way I know how to say goodbye. Consider it the wake of The Daily Smoke - a few tears, a few beers, and - Jesus willing - a fine pair of tits to wake up to in the morning.

I could say I love you, but if you're Manto I'd be telling a lie.

So I hope I've offended you, made you laugh, made you hate or surprised you. After all it's what you've done to me, and for me, and it's all good.

Thanks, stranger and friend. See ya some sunny day.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

Look at me now - all the way from Uitenhage to the bright lights of the big internet.

Find out more using the handy links provided.

Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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