Guest writer Chelsea regales us with her first forays into the wild world of booze in this multipart series.
Working as a cigarette girl is only partially about selling cigarettes. It’s much more about selling yourself. A Peachy Puff is a product, and when a customer buys a pack of cigarettes from her, he’s also buying her company. It’s a form of very short-term, platonic prostitution. This is where it came in handy to be witty, funny, and exciting, because these things were the real wares we were peddling, much more so than the packs of gum and the disposable lighters. But this could cause some confusion about the role of a Puff as well; we were propositioned often, if not nightly.
I can’t tell you how many times people tried to pay me to party with them at someone’s house after the bars closed. I remember one guy drunkenly trying to convince me to come play a late-night game of tennis, with complete sincerity. But sometimes, people were looking for more than just friendly company. Once, a man with a thick accent and an old-fashioned pinstripe suit and hat pulled me over to sit next to him. He wrapped his arm around me, telling me that he wanted me to come back to his hotel room with him. “I have a jacuzzi in my room,” he offered. “You don’t have to take all your clothes off, just wear your panties.” He pulled out a huge wad of hundred dollar bills—more than I had ever seen in my life—and waved it in front of my face, saying “Don’t you want this? Take it.” I quickly removed his arm from around my shoulders, smiling nervously, and hurried off.
Another time, two Italian tourists tried negotiating a fair price to take me back to their hotel with them. Often times I would play along with these sorts of games, because usually they were just that—games. If I thought I would get a sale out of it in the end, I would endure it. “Five hundred!” one shouted at me, “We’ll give you five hundred, how about that?” I say no, with a flirtatious smile, I am worth much more than that. “Six hundred? Or seven. Will you take seven hundred? Ok, eight hundred, that’s my last offer. Eight hundred it is!” With that, one of the men came up to me, grabbed me around the waist and threw me over his shoulder; my tray of cigarettes still dangling from my neck. He manages to carry me about half a block until my incessant kicking and screaming discourages him enough to put me back down, and I quickly run off. When I related the story to my fellow Puffs back at Headquarters that night, I was proud to note that I did not drop a single item off my tray.
To be continued…
Cash picture courtesy of kfergos (flickr)