‘Third hand’ smoke

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Rob could build, fix, fit and retrofit anything. Tree falls on your house knocking out all the electricity in a blizzard on Christmas Eve, Rob could and did trudge through deep drifts and cheerfully fix it. Be offended if you didn’t call him. Hot water tank shorts out, daughter’s car shorts out, Rob was there to fix it. Rob is real, not another hallucinogenic imagination of my mind like Zortran the Terrible and his endless accordion playing. Rob builds his own Maseratis as a hobby. He could fix anything except a Montreal Canadien’s losing streak and that really bothered him given he was a hopeless Hab’s fan. I’m sure that if you cut him, he’d bleed red. 

True story coming on and these are rare.

I was asked to host, for the better part of a day, Guy Lafleur, who was in town to spice up a doctor’s hockey event. “Hey Rob” I called, pleased at a chance to finally give back a little, “How would you like to meet Guy Lafleur?” Since Rob was so used to my practical jokes, often involving latex gloves, broccoli and salamanders it took a lot of convincing and an affidavit. But when he finally believed me, he couldn’t sleep for a week.

The day came. Guy came. “Guy,” I offered, knowing his love of fast cars “how would you like a ride in a Maserati?”

“I would love dat!” he exclaimed, though he probably didn’t actually say “dat.” What he probably said was more like “dat ting!”

“Well this is Rob and this lovingly waxed and very skookum Maserati is waiting for you and Rob to go for a spin.”

“Skookum? What’s dat?” 

I walked away leaving Guy and Rob, in his Hab’s heaven, as they adoringly inspected the car, Rob all but moved to tears in this sacred moment. As I crossed the parking lot towards my old clunker I heard a desperate “Dave, Dave stop!” Rob could not start the car. Rob, who could build another one in 10 minutes normally, couldn’t focus on a simple fuse that had blown.

And so we got into my GMC Ruster, scraped the Hubba Bubba and biopsy specimens off the seat and began to tour the town.

“You know when me and the Road Runner were leaning forward on the bench between shifts?” Guy reminisced “We were actually having a smoke! One minute I’d be smoking down the right wing the next I’d be smoking right on the bench.”


Considerate to not want to expose me to second hand cigarette smoke, he never asked to smoke, but whenever he got out of the car to sign autographs or remove gum from his buttocks, he would light up.

But was I in any danger of third hand smoke?

When you light up, toxic particulate matter from tobacco smoke gets into your hair and clothing. When you come into contact with others, even if you're not smoking at the time, they too will come in contact with those toxins. Tobacco smoke contamination lingers even after a cigarette is extinguished, a phenomenon defined as "third-hand" smoke. Eleven of the many hundred noxious compounds in cigarette smoke that can be transferred are classified as Group 1 carcinogens, the most dangerous. Small children and hockey fans are especially susceptible to third-hand smoke exposure because they can crawl and play on, or touch and mouth contaminated surfaces or Guy Lafleurs. Similar to low-level lead exposure, low levels of tobacco particulates have been associated with cognitive deficits among children and the higher the exposure level, the lower the reading score. These findings underscore the possibility that even extremely low levels of these compounds may be neurotoxic and, according to the researchers, justify restricting all smoking in indoor areas inhabited by children, including homes, schoolrooms and my Ruster.

And that, sports fans … is dat.