"You’re not holding it right…"
He took the cigarette back from me.
"It’s in the wrist. And you have to bring the cigarette to your mouth, not the other way around."
He laughed at his own joke and took a long drag. He looked away as he blew out the smoke, wanting me to observe, to swoon.
I waited. He stepped closer and offered the cigarette back to me. As I took it, he held my hand and placed the cigarette near the tips of my fingers.
"That’s where a girl should hold it."
"It looks sexier."
My eyes narrowed instinctively. I was learning how to smoke to avoid sexual stereotyping and here was this guy pushing me into it. Any argument would be wasted on him. Demonstration was my best option.
I held the cigarette between my thumb and index finger like a junkie in the middle of winter. I craned my neck down and inhaled. He looked confused. I leaned in to his ear, exhaled down his back and whispered,
“Isn’t this sexy?”
I expected him to move away, or at least to be embarrassed. I expected to have to avoid eye contact with him for the rest of the year. But instead, he put a hand on my waist.
Now, I was embarrassed; I moved away.
He was concerned. He held his hands up as if to surrender, or show me he wasn’t doing anything. He looked at me for any signs of what had gone wrong. I was just pacing. It was a narrow space behind a building. On one end was a dumpster which no one could stand next to. The other side opened to the road.
He was hot. No one saw it because he spoke in a painfully deliberate manner and made sarcastic comments so subtle that they mostly went unnoticed. But he had a good body. And he knew Photoshop.
"What?" he asked again.
“You have to ask before you can do things like that.”
He did an elaborate shrug.
“You were basically asking for it when you… when you… “
His hand went up to the side of his neck I had leaned into. He looked at his feet. In a calmer voice, he continued. “When you asked if you were sexy.”
I decided to try the arguments. “You can’t just objectif-“
He cut me off. “You should flick it.”
“It’s going to burn you.”
The cigarette was still between my fingers. I took a drag and crushed the stub against the wall.
"Rookie mistake." he said. I looked at him. This was that hidden humor. He was calling us both rookies. It was, in his way, an apology.
"Pick me up at eight tomorrow."
And I walked away in a cloud of smoke.