At 10 PM on New Years Eve, it's beginning to feel like this was a bad idea. I'm more than a pack into my Portland Smoking Ban Farewell Dive Bar Tour and I can actually hear my lungs pleading for mercy. But do I show mercy? No. Because I'm obstinate and cranky. And believe me: I'm not romanticizing a damn thing.
I won't bore you with the details of my last three stops at Dot's, the Clinton Street Pub and the Reel 'Em Inn, but there was much drinking, dancing, smoking, arguing, and smoking.
I continued to ask people about the ban as the night wore on, but no one said anything that hadn't been said before. Besides, the responses became less and less coherent as we crept towards 2009. By the time the bells were rung and the horns blown, the most eloquent quotes I could get went something like, "Fugit! fug zose mozerfuggers! Wai' wahdjo jez ass me?" etc.
But I did come away with what I found to be an interesting trend: bartenders and servers were largely in favor of the ban—as typified by Amy, one of my all time favorite bartenders from Dot's who told me, "Fuck yeah! It's about damn time." On the other hand, most smokers I talked to were all like, "waaaaah, waaaaaaaah, waaaaaaaah."
I also heard reports of several bars that were going to go ahead and pay the smoking fines (not to exceed two grand per month). I won't blow their cover, but one of the bars is a well loved karaoke dive in Southeast and the other is a high profile downtown rock club. Take from that what you will.
As for me, I quit. My last cigarette was lit in the Reel 'Em Inn, sometime around 2:20, and finished on a cold and rainy walk between there and home. My sum cigarette total for the day was just shy of two packs. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.
This morning, I feel like one of those kids who was forced to put away an entire carton in one sitting after being caught smoking. And like one of those kids, I'm vowing to never touch the stuff again. So I guess, in retrospect, it wasn't such a bad idea after all.