By Caroline Polich
Once upon a time, not so very long ago on the campus of Drew University, there was a Vape God. I’m sure he had a name, but for the sake of this tale let’s just call him Juulian. He was your average Drew student— DIII athlete, hailed from New Jersey (Vape May, NJ to be precise), and enjoyed a good sandwich from the C-Store— but Juulian had a special talent with the electronic cigarette that elevated him above the rest of his peers. His smoke rings inspired awe. His ability to create clouds of smoke that looked like animals gave him a charisma that the upperclassmen (and upperclasswomen) admired. Even the occasional professor would pause and stare, before hurrying off to notify P-Safety that someone was smoking (“smoking”) less than 25 feet from Brother’s College again. Some said that Juulian began vaping as a wee first year so that he could look cool at all the Suites parties, but others speculated he had began as young as 12 because he was just so precocious. Like a knight wielding a sword, Juulian wielded complete and expert control of his vape, and the considerable honor and ~coolness~ that came with it.
One day Juulian was parked in the back row of his 9:00 a.m. stats class. He tried to pay attention, but the theory of factorially challenged inter-variables and regressive trigonometry were oh-so-boring and Professor Sfumato had a voice as melodic and soothing as a babbling brook, and it was all he could do keep to his eyes from fluttering shut. In his extreme boredom, Juulian thought of the Limited Edition Red Velvet Cupcake-flavored Juul pod he had just bought but not yet tried. “A quick hit can’t hurt,” he mused, “after all I’m in the back, and Sfumato hasn’t taken attendance since the first week.” He took a few quick hits from his Juul. Immediately the smoke detector went off— for it was rather inconveniently placed on the wall directly behind him— and the lecture hall was filled with the cloying scent of red velvet cupcakes.
Now, Drew doesn’t often do fire drills, so everyone panicked. Professor Sfumato ushered everyone out of the classroom as the siren wailed. Juulian tried to slip out but the professor stopped him. “Juulian, I’m not sure what you were doing back there, but smoking isn’t allowed in the classrooms, even if it smells like red velvet cupcakes. Please give me your cigarettes.” “It’s not a—” “Either you can give it to me or I’ll have to inform Public Safety that you were smoking in an academic building which could result in a fine.” Juulian dug in his pocket and pulled out his beloved Juul which he reluctantly handed to Professor Sfumato. “Thank you. Please come to my office hours next Wednesday if you want it back.”
Juulian was devastated. Without vaping he feared his coolness and social life would, uh, go up in smoke. Without vaping he was nothing; a fish without water, a sky without the sun, Commons without nuggets (he was also probably suffering from some mild nicotine withdrawal). Juulian would’ve gone out and bought another Juul but he’d spent all of his money on food and Juul pods. He couldn’t even borrow his friends’ vapes because they had all come down with the flu.
Finally, like the wait to get a sandwich at the C-Store on a Saturday night, Wednesday came. Our protagonist trotted down to Professor Sfumato’s office in BC, Juul-bilant that he was to be reunited at last with his treasured vaping device. Professor Sfumato was at his desk when Juulian came in. “Hello Juulian, take a seat.” Juulian did. “Now I don’t know a lot about what you kids these days are doing,” said the professor. “Heck, I thought that your newfangled vaping device was some sort of thumb drive. But regardless I’m sure you know why you’re here.” “Yeah.” “Smoking and vaping are not allowed in the academic buildings, they are not allowed in my classroom and I would advise that you quit altogether.” “Uhhh,” Juulian was mortified; such a thought had never occurred to him before. Professor Sfumato continued, “Ultimately you are an adult and it is your prerogative whether you vape or you do not. Vaping is better than smoking— certainly— but we don’t really know what it will do to one’s health long term. After all, cigarettes were once thought to be healthy.” Sfumato’s castigation continued on for some time and in great detail until Juulian was quite convinced that they would be there all night, but finally Sfumato gave Juulian his vape and sent him on his way.
Juulian left Professor Sfumato’s office hours feeling, well, not as puffed up as when he came in, even though he had been reunited with his Juul. He happily spent the rest of the afternoon vaping like that sketchy laundry vent by the Shakespeare Theater that only seems to spew steam on dark and spooky nights when one is walking back from the DoYo all by themselves. But after a few days, Juulian started to wonder if maybe there was a bit more to life than vaping. Maybe there were other ways to have fun like croquet or going bird-watching. Maybe there were other ways be cool such as having a winning personality or by wearing Crocs. Thus, Juulian decided that he wouldn’t abstain from vaping— not for now anyways— instead he’d just cut back a little bit. And so, Drewids who dig e-cigs, I urge you to contemplate why you Juul or vape. Is it worth it? Are there any benefits? Should you vacate your vape, forget your e-cigarette, or junk your Juul? I don’t know, Juul have to decide that for yourselves.
Caroline is a freshman Art major and Spanish minor.