Hey guys, for lots of reasons I've been away from here, but I didn't realize it had been so long - over a year from the login message! I'll try to be here more often.
Well, you have read the caption, but I'm not even sure whether I should be posting this in the "Smokin Starts" forum, because I don't have any details of his start - I only know that he started - and it's not really a story in the same sense as the others here. Sorry if I disappoint you, but the story is intriguing anyway, so let me share with you what I do know. This is a long post, but only because I'm going to tell you the background history. I should have posted this long ago, but somehow it didn't occur to me. Anyway, here it goes:
I have a very dear friend. We are currently estranged because of a misunderstanding he didn't even let me clarify, but he's still very dear to me, I still consider him my friend, and I hope that the situation will be sorted out one day. He's gay too (another bear), but we never had any sexual or romantic involvement. We have always been strictly friends, and although objectively speaking he's very much my type, he's more like the brother I never had (I was a single child). As far as I know, he's not a smoke fetisher.
He had never smoked until age 42, but 10 years ago he started a relationship with a guy who was a smoke fetisher - albeit only for pipes and cigars. And he was very much in love with that guy. His BF asked him to try cigars and pipes. He did, and while he didn't like pipes, he fell in love with cigars. He started to smoke cigars when they met, which meant about one cigar a week, or every other week. He didn't have a problem with smoking cigars in public and published a lot of pictures with his cigars on the social networks. It became almost a trademark of him.
Their relationship lasted for five years, during which we didn't meet because his then-BF and I had personal grudges (that predated their relationship) and his BF might be pissed off if we met, but we kept in touch by the Internet and phone. So, I never actually saw him smoking his cigar in person, but from the pics I saw, in the last year of their relationship he appeared to be inhaling - and as you well know, inhaling cigar smoke is not for everyone, even experienced cigarette smokers. I asked him about it and he said he thought he did inhale, but should try to avoid it because it was so harmful.
He was very much disturbed when his BF dumped him for another, and only three months later he was already with another guy - which today he admits in the beginning was more for revenge against his ex than for anything else. While they were still in their dating phase, he published a couple of pics on-line with a cigarette - one lighting it, the other dangling the butt. When I saw that, my eyes jumped out of the orbits as in a cartoon, as you can imagine... When I asked him about it, he said he wasn't smoking cigarettes and it had been just a pose for the pics, with a cigarette he had bummed from his boss for that purpose and had kept in his duffel bag for days before shooting the pics (in the lightup pic, the cig was perfectly smooth, looking like it had just been taken from the pack, so that didn't convince me).
But the new guy he was dating was (and is) radically anti-smoking and reacted horribly. So, he stopped smoking altogether - even cigars. That was not difficult, I guess, because he certainly wasn't addicted yet. They ended up really becoming BFs and the new relationship lasted for four more years, during which, as far as I know, he didn't smoke at all.
Last year (2015) he dumped the second BF, who was cheating on him, and when we met afterwards I proposed that we smoke a cigar together, as there was no more hindrance. He got very nervous and said he didn't smoke cigars any more, that he was against smoking, that smoking is bad and blah blah blah, and quickly changed the subject. Yet half an hour later he was buying a cigar in front of me for a photo essay he was going to make for an on-line bear magazine, just to piss his new ex off. (He never learns that retribution is bad...) Of course, the pics ended up gorgeous.
In September 2015 there was the incident that made him cut off our friendship and we never spoke again (though I did send him a greeting by SMS on his birthday last August, with no reply). But I kept looking at his Instagram pics, which were public (I don't have an Instagram account myself). One morning in February this year, I was surprised by a pic where he had a cigarette on his ear and a mischievous smile. I spent the rest of that day checking his Instagram every 10 minutes, as you can imagine... In the afternoon, he posted two pics actually smoking, or at least faking it very well - and it was a Marlboro Red! The previous "artistic poses" (as he had called them) years before had been with a white-filtered Lights brand.
One of the pics was not good, he was holding the cig very awkwardly pretending to be pulling the cig from his mouth. But the other pic was a masterpiece of smoking sexiness and he appeared to be inhaling deep like a pro (it was under sunlight, so there was no visible glow to be sure of that). The next day he posted two more pics, dangling a Red (also gorgeous and natural like a pro), but I could see that the pics were from the same series of the previous day, and were probably taken with the same cigarette. And he posted a few more pics in the following couple of weeks, but again, all from the same series and probably taken with the same cigarette. Then, no more smoking pics at all. (Of course I saved those pics, but I'm going to respect his privacy and I'm not going to post them here.)
I knew that the chances were that he was smoking for real this time, among other things because he had also been a teetotaler (he simply said he hated the taste of alcohol and didn't miss it), but at about the same time he started posting pics drinking beer as well. So, it seemed like he got tired of always being a "good guy" and was trying to do some "bad guy" things for a change. But since there were no more pics of him smoking (as well as no visible packs, no ashtrays, no cigs in the hand, etc.), there was also some chance that those pics had really been just poses. He really does a lot of poses in several different situations, as if performing a fictional character. I did see some suspicious bulges in his pant pockets in later pics, but I couldn't be absolutely sure.
The confirmation (and the frustration)
In June, the confirmation finally came: he just posted a pic of his room, but he either forgot or didn't notice that there was a pack of Marlboro Reds and a Bic lighter on his desk. The pic was dark and it was a broad shoot, so the pack was small in the photo, but my trained eye noticed it. Two months later, he posted another pic where there was very clearly a Reds pack and a lighter on his bed. I was very lucky to check his pics at that moment, because he deleted that pic only minutes later, but I had already seen it and saved it. Last September, unfortunately, he made his Instagram pics private, only for approved followers, and I couldn't see any more pics. He also publishes a few pics occasionally on Flickr, Tumblr, and Pinterest, which I can still view, but there have been no new pics of him smoking there either. He may be posting more on Facebook, but I don't have access to that either. I also check the pictures of some of his friends I know, where he might occasionally appear, but no news there either.
Anyway, my friend is now a smoker. He was 51 years old when he started (he turned 52 last August). Exactly why, when and how he started, I don't know. I also don't know how addicted he is and how much he smokes, but since he had a Reds pack in August, six months after the first pics, he's probably addicted already. He has been unemployed for quite a while now, living out of an allowance from his sister, and stays most days at home, so he's free to smoke all he wants.
Last July his elderly mother fell ill, was hospitalized for two months, and unfortunately died in September. He must have been extremely anxious and grief-stricken, and that probably made him smoke even more, consolidating his addiction. And let's face it, someone who is worried about health hazards and thinks of stopping doesn't smoke Marlboro Reds - if he can't stop, he switches to Lights in the vain hope that they will be less harmful.
Still, it's very unusual for a man his age to start smoking if he's not a smoke fetisher.
This is all I know for now. I keep checking whatever traces I can find of him on the Internet when I can, but so far nothing new. Only another smoke fetisher can understand how and why I became obsessed with this, but I'm sure you guys will understand - you'd be the same in my place. I'll let you know if and when anything appears.