A Quiet Cigarette

I am a great fan of murder mysteries, and in one that I read several months ago, I came across this sentence:

The steward was outside the laundry, enjoying a quiet cigarette.

My mind promptly seized on a quiet cigarette, and wouldn’t let it go. Fretful and anxious, the mind wondered if the author had ever known a cigarette to be loud. If so, how loud, and what kind of sound did the cigarette make?

Then a similar phrase came to mind: a quiet moment.

Though it never occurred to me until my mind balked at a quiet cigarette, a quiet moment doesn’t make much sense either.

Being the stickler for clear writing that I am, I’d probably change the offending sentence to something like this:

The steward was outside the laundry, quietly enjoying a cigarette.

That would make more sense. But it wouldn’t be anywhere near as entertaining or fun.

Tara Treasurefield
Tara’s Writing Studio


About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
This entry was posted in clear thinking, syntax. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Quiet Cigarette

  1. Hugo MEndoza says:

    I was reading your blogg and the quote dealing with the quiet cigarette really caught my mind. Inevitably was I forced to think myself about the same. Then I thought cigarettes, when being smoked, do make some pretty little noises comming from the chopped tobaco leaves on fire. Afterwards, however, a recollection of someone smoking a seeds-in-it weed cigarette sprung into my mind and, with it, the pleasant pop-cracking of those tiny seeds exploding as the heath reaches them. Most surely, nothing of this makes any sense either, and nor does it answer the question about a loud smoke. However, it did provoke some thinking.

    • 123clear says:

      Well, Hugo, maybe there is no such thing as a quiet cigarette. Unless, of course, it’s not lit. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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