“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares
“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant
“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus
“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction
“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper
Do Androids Dream of Electric Cigarettes?
I have been a smoker, at times heavy and other times recreational, for all of my adult life. There's something about a good cigarette, the feel of the smoke at the base of one's throat, the satisfying smoke cloud upon exhale, the ability to take a break at work or slip from a party or bar into the night and take stock of things, whether it be one's sobriety or ex-girlfriend/boyfriend parked at the pool table, that I don't think I'll ever shake. But I'm getting older; I'd like to run a half marathon before my knees decide to retire. And of course my health, even if I smoke a few cigarettes a week, is a concern. Especially for my partner, who is prone to burn through cigarettes faster than old ladies spend nickels at a casino. So we invested in one of those vapor cigarettes.
I have to say, it's pretty dumb. You go out in public and you pull out a tube of plastic with chemicals in it to feed your addiction. Does anyone realize how stupid they look, sucking off a piece of plastic with liquid nicotine in it? Like it's perfectly normal to subsidize your addiction while talking about Gerty's baby shower? What's next—fake heroin needles with topical methadone, or gum with cocaine in it?
Hopefully, the electronic cigarette will shame me and the missus in quitting, because there's nothing great about a product that doesn't help you quit anything and makes you look incredibly stupid at the same time. At the very least, we will vape secretly in the dark corners of our own home. Shame should always be hidden, not paraded. For small consolation, at least vaping it won't stain our teeth.
Of course, smoking a real cigarette, with real chemicals, will always, always, always be cool.