FOLLOWING IS a conversation between an aging, award-winning humor columnist and a young man who, in his short life, probably only earned an award for Most Tattoos On One Arm.
Me: Excuse me. What’s that metal thing in your mouth?
He: It’s an electronic cigarette.
Me: Dude, you can’t smoke in here. Even if we’re the only ones in this hotel bar, and although it harkens back to simpler times, a time when men were men, and ...
He: There’s no smoke, just steam. It’s a noncombustible cigarette.
Me: Cool phrase that, “noncombustible cigarette.” Yours?
He: Nah. I heard it on a commercial. Some people call it an e-cigarette.
Me: Is that like e-mail? Or E. coli?
He: No. E. coli is bacteria that are dangerous to your health, possibly fatal.
Me: Nothing in common with smoking, then.
He: Right. It’s the latest thing, and it’s helping me quit combustible cigarettes.
Me: That reminds me. Did you know that after the helicopter was invented, people had to start calling airplanes “fixed-wing aircraft.” This little upstart invention changed the whole vernacular of the aviation industry. That makes me SO mad! Friggin’ helicopters!
Me: So, back to this cigarette. What’s the point?
He: It delivers nicotine without second-hand smoke.
Me: Confining horrible medical consequences to the user, and protecting innocent bystanders.
He: Exactly. Plus, we can do it anywhere we want, like here, for instance.