I was watching one of those e-cigarette commercials on cable TV -- you know, the one with the ominous, but slightly hopeful piano music and the cool-looking, stubble-bearded actor Stephen Dorff telling viewers: "For us smokers, times have changed... But with Blu, we can still be ourselves."
Boy was Dorff being himself with an e-cig.
In a matter of seconds, he is seen from a Manhattan rooftop, inside a cab, on the street, in the subway, at a restaurant, atop Machu Picchu, at Times Square, at a rock concert, a shopping mall, riding a bicycle, at the motor speedway, in a nightclub, on the set of an action movie (or TV show?), and finally, somewhere in the mountains.
All of this made me wonder -- where doesn't Dorff smoke or "vape"? In the shower? While eating his Rice Krispies?
I've never been much of a smoker, but the rest of the commercial struck a chord with me.
"After all," Dorff concluded, "this country was founded on free will. Embrace it. Chase it. Blu e-Cigs ®. Take back your freedom."
Inspired by Dorff's patriotic call to action, I immediately went out and bought a pack of e-cigarettes which I had no intention of ever vaping.
But I didn't stop there. I wanted to take back my freedom in all aspects of my life.
But where to begin?
When my wife went to work, she left me a small list of chores such as vacuuming the living room rug, mowing the dandelions on the front lawn, and cleaning the dishes that were piling up in the sink. I would shirk my duties and go out for a bike ride instead with one of those e-cigs. Of course, I quickly came to my senses and nixed that idea.
No, I would have to find another way to take back my freedom -- one that didn't involve shirking of household responsibilities.
So I did what any red-blooded, freedom-loving American would do: I looked up ideas on Google, which led me right back to the Stephen Dorff commercial, lighting up an e-cig.
I did find another website including this editorial comment from an obvious critic of the Dorff commercial:
Ok, so I keep seeing these stupid f***ing ads on TV for Blu electronic cigarettes, and the slogan is 'take back your freedom' while showing some dweeb modern version of the Marlboro Man trying to look cool with this s*** stuck in his mouth. My problem is, I JUST DON'T GET IT! Will somebody please explain to me how I'm 'taking back my freedom' by 'smoking' these stupid things? No matter how hard I try to figure this out, I just don't get it.
The comment was accompanied by an animated emoticon of someone smacking the side of their head.
Taking back my freedom wasn't going to be so easy after all.
Upon further review, I found: a Ron Paul forum, with a warning that those who participated in the thread would most likely be added to a U.S. terrorist watch list; an anti-police-state site called COPBLOCK: BADGES DON'T GRANT EXTRA RIGHTS; a diatribe by a British man awaiting trial in a German prison for allegedly denying the Holocaust, which is subject to a five-year prison term; a link to a site encouraging people to "Take Back Their Privacy & Freedom: Reset the Net," to prevent mass surveillance by government and corporate entities; a black feminist blog called, "We Can Take Back Our Lives: KISA"; and, perhaps least helpful of all, the lyrics to the song "Freedom" by George Michael -- "...Take back your pictures in a frame. Take back your singing in the rain..."
Like Dorff, I wanted to take back my freedom, but not break any laws or wind up on some terrorist watch list. And, for heaven's sake, not get that song "Freedom" stuck in my head! (That took about three years of my life in the nineties.)
I decided to give my friend Robert in Fairbanks, Alaska, a call.
An attorney and lifelong civil libertarian, Robert once complimented Sarah Palin on her painted toenails while he was stoned as she was serving him a hot dog on the campaign trail. If anyone knew how to "Take Back Your Freedom," I figured, it was Robert.
Robert said Alaskans would probably welcome Stephen Dorff with open arms. "What a lot of people up here do is grow their own, including food," he said with a giggle. "What you need is an e-marijuana cigarette called 'Green,'" he suggested.
"People come up here to get off the grid," Robert added. "They live out of town with a generator or solar power. There's no record of how much energy they use." He said in this way people can make themselves energy self-sufficient without fear of government and police monitoring their energy usage and issuing bothersome search warrants.
Another way people can take back their freedom in Alaska, said Robert, is by joining a militia. "That way, if the s*** hits the fan they're prepared to stand together, in a Mad Max-type of world."
While helpful, I found Robert's suggestions -- including the prospect of life in a post-apocalyptic world in remote Alaska -- a bit hardcore for my tastes. Was it that difficult to take back your freedom?
Perhaps Stephen Dorff was right after all. All one had to do to take back your freedom was simply exercise your right to vape.
Robert did not find fault with Dorff's assertion.
"My freedom is, I like to go outside and take a pee with my dog, Blue."