June 6, 2016


“What is that?” my sixty-something-year-old sister asked during one of our tri-weekly early morning telephone chats. I was sitting in my home office and I had just remarked how I could still smell the yecchy fragrance of hookah pipes a week after I had accompanied my daughter to a hookah bar on one of her entrepreneurial pursuits.

“Hookah! You know,” I replied as I looked around trying to determine the source of the smell.Was it in the blouse I had worn which was hanging on the doorknob? Maybe it was in the stack of business cards and flyers I had collected that night which I had left lying on the shelf. God forbid the smell had attacked the wig I had worn.  “It’s that yuppie thing the kids do these days.”

“What is it?” she queried again.

“You never heard of a hookah bar?” I asked incredulously. “It’s where they go to smoke some kind of flavored stuff. I think it’s tobacco. I’m not sure though since you’re not supposed to smoke in public places. Whatever it is, it sure does stink!”

A few computer clicks later, we both had learned that it is indeed tobacco in those pipes. A hookah is a water pipe used to smoke flavored and sweetened tobacco. The tobacco can be flavored with fruit, or coconut or molasses. My sister had also discovered there were a few hookah bars in her neighborhood. As for me, I was flabbergasted. I had given up my beloved Tareytons years ago when I had become pregnant with my daughter because it had been determined that smoking was dangerous for a fetus. And here I was, some 33 years later, accompanying her into a cancer-wreaking, ventless den of fumes that smelled at least 100 times worse than the ashtray I had kept in the bathroom back in the day.

How it is okay to have a hookah bar inside when people have to walk around the block to smoke a regular cigarette outside is beyond me. As people say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Folks are still smoking in bars.