It was a two-fold marketing campaign, and it was wholly successful, in a way. My father is not a man anyone would immediately associate with the stereotypes of being a man’s man. The Art of Manliness will probably never have a manvotional dedicated to his memory, unless of course, I write one (and they publish it). In fact, there are not many aspects of my father’s manliness that I aspire emulate in my own father/man-hood. Or so I think by default.
My generation, those born into the late 70’s and early 80’s, spent the majority of our formative years in a transitional society. Our parents, statistically speaking, weren’t that much older than us. Hardly out of childhood themselves, they were pioneers in a new American tradition of children raising children. I fared much better than most in similar situations. My parents weren’t awful and they honestly gave a shit about trying their best. Sometimes, that really is all you can ask, and in this case, that is enough.
Wonderfully, there is no looming “but” transitioning to the flaws of my father. In fact, I think that the more of an adult man I become, the more any flaws I thought I had identified fall out of existence. Now nearly 10 years older than my father was when I was born, I marvel at his ability to pioneer. Absolutely, mistakes were made, but I can’t think of any serious transgressions. It’s my hope than when I do decide to parent, I can build on our experiences together to create an even better father for my child, however that might look. Probably some cross between Dad(…s…), Jesus, and Jack Burton, if I may be so imaginative.
What brings me to this train of thought is something I just realized about an hour ago, while reading “Ham On Rye”. If I ever start smoking cigarettes, they will be Camel‘s. Frankly, anything less is simply unmanly. Smoking is a filthy, nasty, wonderfully romantic, and badass habit. I associate smoking, or at the very least, possessing, Camel cigarettes with confident men, worthy of respect, good natured about life and people, and capable of succeeding in tribulation.
There are many times in my young adult life I have prepared for difficult situations. Though I never have smoked, I always considered it because of the aforementioned associations I have with Camel’s. I always pack a lighter, a zippo if I can, yet resisted the urge to also bring a pack of Camel’s. I think, perhaps simply having the smell of the pack at hand could well up confidence and the will to persevere.
Don’t get me wrong. Stale smoke and long-ago smoked cigarette smells absolutely horrendous, but fresh Camel’s? That is luxurious. A hearkening to a simpler time when men were men in ways they defined for themselves. Camel’s hold a special place in my heart, even the beloved Camel cash and branded items from their catalog are fond memories. That stuff was cool. Especially the zippos, poker sets, and billiards sticks…
Perhaps there will come a time when I deem a Camel appropriate to be enjoyed in moderation. Probably long after my father is gone, I’ll have a special moment to enjoy the memories evoked by the smells and just spend some time considering what it means to be a successful father and remembering his example.