• Maggie Levine

Art Write 9/25: Nick Doyle

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

I know I'm going to have a hangover in the morning. The day will be more manageable if I wake up to some sense of order in the living room, so I grab a tray with a clearly-from-IKEA pattern and start cleaning up. Wine glasses, wadded napkins, a ramekin of olive pits, cheese rinds, cracker crumbs, beer bottles, a basket of chip crumbs, a clay bowl with some greying clumps of guacamole, an ashtray, and a crushed package of Marlboros.

The tray is way too overloaded. Since I’m wearing socks and could easily slip on the wood floor, I take tightrope walker steps towards the kitchen. The Marlboro box wobbles on top of the pile and when it falls, I have to set down the tray to retrieve it.

I’ve never smoked, yet there’s something familiar to me about the box. Almost comforting. It’s not like I grew up seeing Marlboros all over my house. It has to do with years of interacting with something inanimate -- a tube of toothpaste, a can opener, or a bra. Something I know the ins and outs of and is as familiar to me as my own body.

If I’d smoked for years like Philippe and Mathilde, I bet I’d know exactly how to wedge my thumb under the glued-shut top, to peel apart the sealed foil, and to pry the first cigarette from the tightly packed box. All of these semi-unconscious, dexterous manipulations would be entwined with the ensuing satisfaction of striking a match and bringing the cigarette to my lips. Then, when the box was empty, I’d have my own technique for crushing it and arcing it into a garbage pail.


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