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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

The Sound of a Bee in a Bottle

I grew up in the '60s and '70s when the advertising prowess of the '50s still held sway over people's habits and preferences.  And as a result, pretty much every waking moment of every day was filled with the sight, smell and sound of cigarettes.

Seeing people smoking and smelling the stink of cigarettes are both fairly obvious.  But do cigarettes have a sound?

Well, maybe not... but the smokers sure do. 

When I was a kid, I knew which of my parent's friends were smokers; not from seeing them smoking, but from the sound of their voices.  Especially women.   If a teacher, telephone operator or waitress had a voice that sounded like a bee in a bottle, it was a pretty sure thing that she was a smoker. 

For that matter there were many actors and singers whose voices gave away their heavy smoking habit even if they were rarely (if ever), seen in public with a cigarette.

As smoking declined in popularity in the late '70s and '80s, so did the ubiquitousness of that 'smoker's voice'. 

But for all the good those health awareness and anti-smoking campaigns did, something happened in the '90s and early '00s.  Young people started taking up the habit in staggering numbers.  And despite legislation that prohibits smoking just about anywhere in shared public spaces, I'm again hearing 'smoker's voices' just about everywhere I go.   

And the truly head-shaking part is that these voices don't belong just to middle-aged people anymore.  I'm hearing twenty-somethings who sound like they belong in a 1940s film noir.



Posted by David Bogner on July 8, 2020 | Permalink


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