A Vape Tale

Sang-Hee Park

E-cigarettes. Like the colorful fumes they produce, they’re on the rise. As someone who has been blessed only with the secondhand smoke of an anxious uncle, I have no personal connections with cigarettes of any kind. I can, however, tell immediately when someone is vaping. It’s simple – if you see smoke in the sky and no train nearby, someone’s huffing mint like no tomorrow. Or another sophomore is on fire. Knowing the vandals in this school, either is likely.

Regardless, there is one, indisputable fact – Most people who vape are boys.

This may seem obvious. Girls are often raised to control themselves for other people’s comfort, while boys are encouraged to explore their world, even breaking school rules to do it. Some of our bathrooms have closed due the these vape rogues playing their laffy taffy fruit flutes. But as a liberal, I emphasize tolerance of all backgrounds. I’ve been told that these restroom rituals are significant to the Mainline Bro culture. If you strain your ears in the hallway, some say that you can hear a faint Sonata Solo in A Minor accompanied by a freshman sobbing in rapturous bliss.

However, my dear readers, such gender division is different in the alcohol world. Men sit down with the bubbly yellow concoction they call beer or go all out with shots of whiskey. Meanwhile, women are automatically associated with colorful martini glasses topped with whatever fruit is nearby. Burly bros love to talk down to these drinks, feeling their drinks are superior because they’re straightforward and hard, which is often evident in their marketing as well. ‘Female’ drinks are fruity, fun, and less intense than their masculine counterpart.

So why do men vape more than women?

Think about it. Cigarettes are hard, dangerous, life-threatening. As you suck in smoke from your the tiny white towers, you imagine those cool greasers or the ace detectives in noir films. Unquestionably, the bad-boy reputation increases, while your lungs shrivel like glove size in the Oval Office. An inverse graph of health and masculinity.

Meanwhile, vapes have childish flavors like Cherry, Mango, and Coca-Cola. These pocket piccolos come in all sorts of playful colors and sizes, perfect for attracting the sensitive, feminine type. We don’t even know if it’ll kill you like classic cigarettes, simply because the vaping phenomenon is only a decade old. If the vape trend was a person, they’d be laughing at Pewdiepie videos and sharing a cringe compilation with their friends. And perhaps reading this article. (DISCLAIMER: I have nothing against ten-year-olds. Please don’t assemble and come after me. I fear children.)

This revelation may seem like it came out of nowhere. How could this happen? Is this a gendered cultural shift in how we view fruity alternatives to the mainstream heart killers? But the solution has been in front of us this whole time. Why else would dudes be willing to drop the manly façade and smoke ‘like a woman’?

That’s right.

Feminism.

With the new embrace of girly products, boys are finally standing up for us women in the progressive world. No more arbitrary gender divide keeping us from enjoying products that slowly weaken our immune systems. The ‘I Love Boobies’ bracelet has gotten an upgrade, folks, and they’re producing sweet smoke like miniature Willy Wonka Chocolate factories.

Radnor is an excellent example of this new wave of women’s rights. Just the other day, I saw a boy sneaking into a bathroom, a pink vape pen visible from his pocket. I gasped aloud. What a clear and heartfelt tribute to the women affected by breast cancer! I couldn’t help but approach him and ask what inspired him to carry Susan G. Komen’s message in a device that had the potential to create a different kind of cancer. He denied to comment. Perhaps he found my question to bold. Or the cameraman looked intimidating. Either way, he left my feminist heart aflutter.

A week after, I was heading into homeroom when I noticed a strange smell in the air. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but then I heard the unmistakable tune of ‘Serenade to a Cuckoo’ by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. I stumbled into the nearest boys bathroom, eager to see the performance in person. Sitting amongst the blue tiles was a small group of freshmen, sitting cross-legged around a small fire and blowing on their cotton candy pipes. Their jazz piece nearly brought me to tears (as did the copious amounts of smoke billowing from their direction). I was tempted to join in, but I felt that, like with most tribes, it was best to let them be.

What a glorious step in the right direction! Now all us women need is to get paid the same.

So, as one who forever holds hope toward the future, I salute my girly smoking brethren to keep up the good work. You’re sacrificing so much for us women, and your service that will not go unappreciated. As the feminist movement grows, I fully expect #IVapeWithHer to trend in no time.