Do you know what a “cigarette girl” is? Okay, many of you do - especially those of a certain age. But more and more young people have no idea. Remember old movies. In those nightclub scenes featuring characters like Humphrey Bogart young women - probably not old enough to drink - dressed in what was probably the equivalent of a Playboy Bunny outfit walked around these smoke-filled joint with a tray suspended in front of them by a strap around their necks calling out to the patrons, “Cigars? Cigarettes?” in sing-song voices. Boy, have times changed! I can’t even imagine contemporary movie studios allowing such a character to appear in a modern movie, unless it was important to the story. That’s a sign of how culture - American culture especially - has changed in its attitude towards smoking, health, advertising and public morality. Many studios actively limit the number of smoking scenes in a film to assuage the public health police, and I’ve heard that some studios are even digitally altering old movies to delete cigarettes and tobacco smoke to spare the sensibilities of today’s audiences. Give me a break, man.
Those same clubs that featured cigarette girls also had the luxury of telephones at the tables of wealthy patrons. Telephones with really long cords attached to them. Imagine the maître d’ in a white jacket and bowtie approaching a table with a regular table top phone in his hand and several meters of telephone cord raped on his forearm. “Phone call for you, Mr. Bogart.” It seems ridiculous in today’s world where everyone has a cell phone in their pocket. Today’s youth can barely understand it when they watch old movies - if they watch old movies at all, which most of them don’t.