Life Is Like A Box of Chocolates…..or Words #7

         If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know by now that I love words and more; their origins.

Ashtray  ~~ noun.  A receptacle for tobacco ashes of smokers. 

In the Urban Dictionary it has taken on a new meaning: ash–tray, useless, unwanted, failure.

Never having been a smoker, I wondered why these two words were slung together; ‘ash’ and ‘tray’.  I pictured a butler, back in the day, arriving with a silver tray holding a box of ciggies, gold lighter and a bowl for the smoker’s ashes.  Nope. I asked myself why not: butt-dish, fagtray, rollie-bowl, stogie-saucer?  These are all slang words for the cigarette: ciggy, lungdart, smoke, coffin nail, butt, fag, rollie, and cancer stick. 

At my first wedding back in 1959 we received a cut-crystal ashtray and I loved it.  We didn’t smoke but had family and friends who did. Back then visitors smoked in your home and ashtrays were mandatory.  This wedding present had place of pride on our coffee table.

‘While rudimentary forms of ashtrays existed long before the 19th century, it was during this time that the design, aesthetic and their popularity really took off. As more and more women began to smoke in the early 1900’s, the ashtray inched closer and closer to an art form of sorts. Many women shunned the use of the traditional ashtray as it failed to reflect their feminine values through an activity that was long heralded as being exclusive to men. What emerged were detailed, often very ornate ashtrays. These ashtrays depicted pastoral scenes of maidens wandering through vibrantly colored landscapes. Some even featured very lavish, cast-iron models of women in frilly dresses, animals in states of play and the occasional porcelain/ceramic tray highlighting extravagant floral arrangements.’

I love to watch people’s rituals when they light up. (the writer in me).  They never deviate from it. Open the pack, shake or draw one out. Stick it in their mouth, reach for their lighter, cup the flame with the other hand (whether there is a breeze or not) and take that heavenly, first drag deep into those poor, beleaguered lungs.  Ahhhh!
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