Damn this cigarette is hard to light!
Dunc was relieving me on watch late one night in the middle of the monsoon season. The rain was pounding down so hard it made a steady roar on the hood of my rain jacket. Visibility was about 10 feet. Since the VC were not idiots, I suspect they were all hiding someplace warm and dry. We hadn’t had any VC contact in days.
Anyway, Dunc came to take over the watch. As I was leaving to look for a dry spot to sleep, he asked if I would light him a cigarette.
Ordinarily, I would have told him to “upfuck” himself. The rule in CAP 2 was ‘no smoking between dusk and dawn.’ But that particular night was like standing in a blacked-out shower stall with the cold water running full blast. I took his cigarette and lighter to a nearby Vietnamese house where the thatch door was propped open with a bamboo stick.
I’d seen people light cigarettes all my life and it looked easy, but lighting Dunc’s cigarette was hard. It would burn only as long as I was sucking on it and holding the flame from the lighter against the tip of the cigarette. Not to mention the taste was like a combination of car exhaust and burning rubber!
I finally took the cigarette back to Dunc. “I don’t see how you can stand to smoke these things,” I said. “This tastes like shit and won’t stay lit.”
Dunc examined the cigarette and immediately found out why.
“Hey, shit-for-brains, you were trying to light the FILTER!”
Dunc laughed so hard I thought he would choke to death on the spot. Too bad he didn’t. I was personally offended. You try to do a guy a favor!
Dunc is still laughing 28 years later, and lighting his own smokes.