The Ashtrays Have Retired

Hi Darling Ones,

One minute it is the summer of 1997 and you’re sitting on the cool stone porch steps of your college best friend’s post-college rental smoking Camel Lights. It’s Sunday morning, though it still feels like Saturday because you haven’t gone to bed yet. It’s so late/early that you don’t even feel drunk anymore, but you were at some point in the evening.

She’s propped a speaker from her stereo into the window of her basement apartment and Tom Wait’s “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” plays softly. Of course it’s that song, because you are in Minneapolis at that exact moment.

“Marty’s really got me into Tom Waits lately,” your friend says between drags.

You are skeptical because you’re neck-deep into your Replacements’ phase. However, you are going to be endlessly delighted to discover “Date to Church” in a few months. But you aren’t there yet. You’re still skeptical, but trust her musical judgement. So you smoke cigarettes and close your eyes to listen because you are young and it is August and time is not a concern.

And when you open your eyes it is August still, but a different Sunday morning, Tom Waits floating through another pair of speakers. You are putting a chorizo & black bean chili in the crockpot trying to muster patience for your Floppy Scoop as you chop chipotles.

It all happened that fast. One moment smoking Camel Lights and discovering Tom Waits for the first time, the next recovering from a stroke and making chili, using a crockpot, and having definite opinions about Tom Waits backed by 25 years of listening.

I’m glad this was a thing I can’t forget.

Nostalgically yours,

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