Smoking With Craig Davis

by Beth Thomas Read the Story July 25, 2010

The title is very interesting. How did you come up with it?

I was listening to rap music because it was spring, finally, and that’s about the only time it makes any sense to me anymore. Spring fever, sunny-day, fresh air, feeling-right type of low grade nostalgia. So the phrase snuck into my head and bubbled up for a few days and finally I wrote it down in my list of titles and one-off lines I like. When I say it aloud, it sounds cool, especially the way the consonants march out, the way the hard C’s with the 2 “ch” sounds and the big open vowels mimic that old-school kick/snare/hi-hat rhythm. And it’s an overt, immature, hyper-masculine, sexual double-entendre, which is both a nod to the general braggadocio of the genre and an obvious jumping off point for the story.

Do makeup and tattoos make a person less naked? Do they make the person less visible, or more so?

I honestly don’t know. Sometimes I think I understand our rules of adornment, or at least sometimes I feel like a can see what’s wonderful about their chaos, their disparity, their arbitrary and inconstant nature. Other times the way we look at each other turns my stomach or breaks my heart. Every time I take a position, I find myself in the wrong, or worse, discover I’ve intentionally mislead myself.

Who is telling this story, and who are they telling it to? Who is the “you”?

The narrator is man who spends a lot of time trying to figure out how fine a mesh to use when sifting memories and what to do with the coarser stuff left over. He is telling the story to himself, as we all do. The “you”, of course, is me.

There are two instances of putting a stop to “it.” What is “it” and why should it be stopped?

“It” is losing control or, maybe just admitting you were never in control. “It” is also the compulsion to tell the tale, to confess. “It” is giving oneself over to the impulses you try to check and relinquishing authority to forces you have no sway over. The narrator wants to stop it now, because he doesn’t like what happens if the story is allowed to play itself out, if the telling continues and if he cannot ever regain that sense of empowerment, however illusory he now knows it to be.

When was the last year that rap mattered? Why?

When? Easy, 1997.
Why? I wish I knew. I miss it, though.

About the Author:

Craig Davis is from Topeka, Kansas. His stories have appeared in or are forthcoming from The New York Tyrant, Hobart, The Southeast Review, PANK and elsewhere. He lives in Kansas City.