Fellow Traveler and I -- who've been making an effort to eat more scratch meals these days -- decided to have dinner out on Friday. We didn't want to drive very far, so we headed for a local tavern that features very good Mexican food.
It was freezing, with the constantly opening door chilling the non-smoking section, so we found ourselves on the opposite end of the establishment. Bad choice; we soon found ourselves enveloped in thick smoke -- largely due to one party sitting opposite us. One of the women at that table went through three cigarettes during our meal, and never set one of them down, not even to eat. We went home wheezing, with tar-besooted clothing and lungs.
There is a very interesting cultural divide between the western and eastern sides of this state. People in west Michigan tend to be health-conscious in a California kind of way. I always feel dumpy and lumpy traveling amid these buff Michiganians; and when I lived in western Michigan, my neighbors' healthy lifestyles spurred me to exercise more and eat better.
Eastern Michigan is the working-class, fried-bologna belt of the state. People here eat, drink and smoke to excess, and resent any attempts to either coax or legislate them into self-improvement. "Ain't nobody gonna tell me what to do" is the regional mantra. (Or, as my late father used to say, "If I want to kill myself smoking, that's my business." Which is pretty much what happened, come to think of it.)
Recent attempts to strengthen anti-smoking legislation in Michigan have stalled, and I suspect always will. Until then, the best way to get away from the smoke is to go west, young men and women, to restaurants and other businesses that have voluntarily gone smoke-free because the public appreciates it.