The Cigarette Lighter

The weirdest experience I’ve ever had with a lighter was when I was eating breakfast at Braum’s (which is never a good idea) and a woman came up to the table where my friend and I were asked if either of us had a light. I said “yeah, I do, actually.” So she took it, promising to return it as soon as she was finished smoking her cigarette outside. It was like in the old movies when the gorgeous woman asks for a light and the properly prepared gent with the lighter offers to light it for her in the fancy nightclub…except nothing at all like that. This was at Braum’s.They serve greasy food and messy milkshakes. The floors are always dirty, the tables are always dirty, the air is dirty. I’m not a fan of that place. I do like their milkshakes. Back to the story. This lady wasn’t the diamond wearing doll-faced gal either. She was a customer at Braum’s. I didn’t want the lighter back. So my friend and I left.

That doesn’t really have anything to do with this post, except, perhaps, the fact that I don’t smoke. No one in my family smokes.

So why do I carry a cigarette lighter?

Fire has been vital to humanity since prehistory. Now that anyone can buy this power for a couple of dollars, everyone underestimates its significance.

Survival is impossible without fire. Like my last post states, I think having a handkerchief is important for survival. But you won’t last long at all without fire. I just saw Bear Grylls on television last night and he said to build a fire before searching for food and water. So I feel validated. And remember the Goofy Movie? If their car didn’t have a cigarette lighter, that can would’ve stayed cold. I don’t think they even make cars with cigarette lighters anymore. Another reason to have one in your pocket like me. And don’t think the wilderness is the only place you’ll ever need a lighter. Every year in most American states and most countries of the world, there’s something called winter. It gets cold. I’ve read stories of people getting stranded on highways during harsh winter nights and all they could do was take shelter in their broken down car until daylight. Fortunately, some of these people had emergency candles (which I also recommend) and cigarette lighters. That one little flame, with a window slightly cracked for oxygen, kept those people alive in temperatures well below freezing. By the way, I also keep a heavy blanket in my car at all times, and recommend you do the same.

I’ve had a few splinters in my life, and will get many more before I exit. To dig them out of one’s flesh, they need something small and sharp. Those small sharp objects need to be sterile. Running it through a flame is a great way to quickly purify the needle. Were you thinking of Lindsay Lohan in Parent Trap just then? I was. Sterilizing a needle is good for emergency surgeries in survival situations too, like when Jedediah Smith was mauled by a bear and his buddies had to sew his face back on. I hope that never happens to anyone reading this.

Maybe this was too generalized. I can’t think of anything else. I was hoping to have more for you.

If you happen to hear some beautiful music and you’re just moved to do it, you could pull out the lighter and wave it around to show your support…? I have no idea why people wave lighters at concerts. I did that one time when I was singing with a group of college students and got in trouble by one of them. She was an RA (I don’t know what they’re supposed to do. I think they’re hall monitors for college) and informed me that lighters were not allowed on campus. She could’ve fined me for having it on campus. I’m even allowed to carry a lighter onto an airplane. They don’t let me take fingernail clippers on the plane, but the lighter is okay. So I think I should be allowed to have a lighter on a college campus. But that’s not your problem. I place my paranoia of apocalyptic survival at a higher level of importance than their paranoia of my lighter.

I’m surprised by the numerous times I’ve used my lighter in everyday situations. Lighting birthday candles, revealing invisible ink, burning messages from secret agents, igniting fuses of smoke bombs, burning witches at the stake, burning copies of Twilight, etc. You’d be shocked by how much you use a lighter if you decide to get one yourself. I hope you know I was joking about all of those things in the last sentence. It’s hard to joke on the internet.

But almost every time someone sees my lighter, they ask “why do you have a lighter?” like it’s a bad thing.

Let’s recap. The reason for a lighter is for fire. Fire warms, protects, illuminates, cooks, boils, purifies. Fire is a foundational need for humanity. We have fancy gas-powered and electric lights and ovens and heaters, but these are less stable than we want to admit to ourselves. Having that little lighter in my pocket gives me a survival advantage that I won’t easily give up.

So the question should not be why do I have a lighter, but why don’t you?