Streams

Significant Object: Marlboro Thermos ($5)

Kurt Andersen met Rob Walker, co-editor of Significant Objects, at Vintage Thrift in Manhattan to pick out three objects for our contest. The thermos is made by Coleman and cobranded with Marlboro. Kurt is drawn to the fact that he can’t easily place the object in time. “Without being dated, it could be anytime from 1955 to now, but you know that, because it’s cobranded with Marlboro, it’s from a while ago."

We want to read your backstory for this object!

→ Submit your story

→ Studio 360's Significant Objects Contest homepage


Filter results:

April 09, 2012 11:30:28 PM
:

Lina

:

I look like a red cigar with a white head. Im also taken as a sit by some people. I am not comfortable as a couch or a mattress is, but i can handle some weight. Im full of liquids inside, so i can keep my owner hydrated. People dont take me serious because i dont have a face, but i do have a sign that says Marlboro.I am famous for this brand, because a lot of people smoke; but i am not a smoker. When im around is because people are having fun and they drink out me. i feel happy when im nice and clean. if you threat me good ill be good to you.

Leave a comment
April 09, 2012 05:31:04 PM
:

Veronica

:

##### My Daddy used to always say no one ever won the Marlboro contests. They were all scams. I just knew the Marlboro man was more true than my old man.

###### My Daddy died of a heart attack when our shed caught fire in a surprise, summer thunder storm.

###### The smoke and flame seemed like another creature than on my Marlboro Red tips.

####### I lost my Daddy without ever showing him I was a winner.

####### Now, I think about him whenever I feel the clunk of my Marlboro thermos against my leg.

####### Red fire and hot coffee.

Leave a comment
April 09, 2012 02:23:41 PM
:

Collette

:

Surprise. A few years ago, that was usually the reaction he got when anyone learned his pedigree. Surprise was always quickly followed by “You don’t look like a Phillip Morris progeny;” followed by embarrassed silence. ###
Marlboro Thermos P. Morris had long ago given up on feeling hurt by people’s reaction. He’d never fared well when compared him to his sibling, Marlboro Man (Morris). Where Marlboro Man was ruggedly handsome, Marlboro Thermos was plain. Where people said, Marlboro Man was ‘the kind of guy women wanted and men wanted to be’; Marlboro Thermos knew, couldn’t come up with a single person that wanted to be him, and women only thought of him when they needed him to carry something. ###
Short and round, with a ruddy red / whitish complexion, he’d never had the “it factor” his brother possessed in spades. Marlboro Man was always cool. In each of his iterations, Marlboro Man had that “it” that they all wanted it. Everyone wanted it, including Thermos. ###
Only time had allowed Thermos to roll out of his brother’s shadow and appreciate his own temperament, which ran sometimes hot, and sometimes cold. It took time, but Thermos found people that appreciated his stoic dependability and what he, Thermos, brought to the table. He’d come a lllooonnnggg way. (Not as far as his Aunt Virginia, but still…) Time and a little distance had brought him out of that giant shadow and taught Thermos to enjoy the drink of life and pour for friends, new and old, gladly.

Leave a comment
April 09, 2012 08:21:08 AM
:

Saskia

:

She brought the thermos full of water to every soccer game she played. She would let its plastic body bounce against her leg, swinging from its handle, as she walked across the field before the match. She would take long sips from it at every opportunity, savoring the grippy feel of the plastic against her palms.
### Her father gave it to her. For good luck, he said. But she never wondered where he got it, even though it was very old.
### One afternoon, sweaty and red-faced after a game, she looked up at her father, cast in shadow by the sun behind his head, and asked him where the thermos came from.
### He cleared his throat and looked at the ground. "Good game, sweetie," was all he said.
### For a second the smell of past cigarette smoke seemed to hang in the air, with the charged feeling of a poker game and an expensive raffle ticket.
### Then the girl's father took her hand and led her away across the soccer field.

Leave a comment
April 09, 2012 12:39:01 AM
:

PJ

:

Darrell Jr .and Glenda enjoyed a long breakfast before beginning the duty they wanted to avoid. Their father had recently passed; their mother had passed away about five years ago. ###
That morning they drove to their father’s one-story 1950’s contemporary ranch style house in Palmdale, California. Palmdale was about 50 miles outside of Los Angeles in the southern region of the Antelope Valley. More 150,000 residents call Palmdale home and seem to enjoy a pleasing quality of life in this family-oriented community.
Palmdale was the opposite of Bakersfield; it had weathered the real estate market very well and they were not considered about selling the house. Palmdale had continued to grow and didn’t have the budget problems that other California towns had. It was a quiet block, even with all the kids playing nearby. ###
This wasn’t the house they grew up in with their parents. Dad and Mom owned a ranch in Wyoming. Darrell and Glenda could not have wished for a better playground than the ranch. They rode horses, watched the local wildlife, fed the cattle, and enjoyed many evening watching the stars. ###
But as Mom and Dad became older, they sold the ranch and moved to the city for the medical amenities. Not only did they move to warmer weather but closer to Dad’s work. ###
As Darrell and Glenda walked across the sidewalk toward the house, memories overwhelmed them. Hey, Darrell, do you remember when we came home for Christmas here for the first time and joked about the lack of snow? Dad bought us snow cones at the 7-11 and told us to quit our complaining? That was the best Christmas ever. Yea, I remember, sis. Gosh, I miss him. ###
As they opened the front door, the strong smell of cooking odors and living hit them. They gave each other a furtive gaze, sighed and started going from room to room, taking in all the furnishings and trying to develop a plan.###
Glenda, why don’t you start in the living room and dining room and I’ll work on the sorting things in the kitchen? Then we’ll do the two bedrooms together and finally the basement. ###
About three hours, Darrell and Glenda finished at the same time and lingered at their father’s bedroom door. This was the most difficult part of the job- going through Dad’s personal items.
This task they knew they would need to split down the middle; neither one of them had the energy right now to get emotional. ###
They both sighed and defaulted to separate corners of the bedroom. Glenda started in the west closet. She picked up an old dusty bankers box, falling apart at the seams, certain she would find old family photos. She opened the lid, coughing at the dust in the air. Instead, she was surprised to find a contract from the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency. ###
“Oh, my God! Glenda screamed at the top of her lungs, “Darrell, Darrell!”
Glenda looked over at Darrell, who was holding a Marlboro Man Thermos.
Darrell, “Did you know that Dad was really the Marlboro man?”

Leave a comment
April 09, 2012 12:36:24 AM
:

Najyah

:

It is four in the morning..
The phone rings..
Hey Mom it’s me, Mario..
I’m sorry. I am in jail..
She feels pain in her heart..
Like she is falling apart ..
What happened?
Her eyes are full of tears..
Her soul is in pain..
She doesn’t understand..
All she wants is to bring her son home..
He can’t talk..
Full of shame and regret..
She can’t say anything..
Her son..
She would do anything for him..
Every penny she has..
Every cent his dad left..
She hurries to her secret spot..
Where she keeps her savings..
Not a metal safe..
Not a wooden box..
But a simple red thermos..

Comments(1)
April 09, 2012 12:33:30 AM
:

Najyah

:

It is four in the morning
The phone rings
Hey Mom it’s me, Mario
I’m sorry. I am in jail.
She feels pain in her heart
Like she is falling apart
What happened?
Her eyes are full of tears
Her soul is in pain
She doesn’t understand
All she wants is to bring her son home
He can’t talk
Full of shame and regret
She can’t say anything
Her son
She would do anything for him
Every penny she has
Every cent his dad left
She hurries to her secret spot
Where she keeps her savings
Not a metal safe
Not a wooden box
But a simple red thermos..

Leave a comment
April 09, 2012 12:26:37 AM
:

Nicholas

:

It wasn't Jim's first vacation, but it definetely would be his last. "My last one" jim uttered, while bobbing up to the crest of a miserably frothy and bitingly cold wave; Jim swore on it to God himself. If Jim was to favor any part of this particularly wet predicament, it would definitely be geting to the crest of this next wave. For it was there, from atop of the liquid mountain he sighted it, the flash of red caught and held his dying eyes. This turn of events breathed life into his searing soggy lungs. Instead of sinking, jim swam with passion towards the red that reflected in his eye. Most victims of cruise ship abandonment would likely prefer Jim's red salvation to be belonging to the likes of a coast gaurd rescue ship beckon or a life saver at the very least. But not jim, nothing could of been better than this. This was a symbol of personal achievement, it was his Marlborough thermos. ### The coast gaurd crew that plucked Jim from his certain death in that icey blue still laugh about how it toke four grown men to pry that Thermos from Jim's grip. Its said he never would've made it if it wasn't for that red thermos. Then again, considering how many cigarettes he had to smoke in order to win that thermos, he probably would have made it. Nowadays when Jim hears his old nickname in passing, "hey, Marlborough man!", not only do his lungs flare but his heart swells too.

Leave a comment
April 09, 2012 12:05:37 AM
:

Erica

:

I was never the poorest kid in school, nor the richest. I was average. Never popular, never really bullied. I didn’t like my junior high and high school years, but then, many kids don’t. I wasn’t suicidal or even depressed, just pretty moody, really. Lunches were the worst. Societal judgment at it best, or worst, depending on how you looked at it.

"###"
Bringing your lunch as a step up from eating in the cafeteria. If you ate the school food everyone assumed you were on free lunch, and that was bad. You didn’t want people to think that. But if you brought your lunch there was judgment too. I think the fact that none of us had enough money to make clothes or cars the important part, something had to show status. When the whole population is a bunch of farmers, no one really stands out much. If you brought your lunch, you at least had enough money for food at home. Then what you brought–that was really important too. Was it a nice sandwich on store bought white bread–that was good. A PB& J on homemade wheat bread–that was the bottom of the barrel, right down there with bringing leftover meatloaf. The special few had things like crackers and cheese or –gasp–canned fruit. A tiny can of fruit was made you the most popular girl in the school.

"###"
Me, I was fine…I brought the average. That is, until the day my dad thought he would be funny, and put that thermos in my lunch. He thought it would help my mood. I guess something bad had happened the day before, and I complained a lot that night. So he put my lunch in the red thermos. I didn’t even know where he got it…it was beat up and rough around the edges, and had that awful logo on the top-that cigarette brand. I didn’t smoke, I was not part of that crowd. It was ugly and awful.

"###"
So, I opened my nice paper bag (not too smooth and neat, but nicely crumped and worn looking but still smell free–I thought it would be a good day) to find that thing, filled with soup and some crackers on the side. It took me years to live that down. Two teachers swooped down, confiscated it and bought me a school lunch (tater tot hot dish, to make matters even worse.) I was humiliated. “No Tabaco Products or Ads in School, Please” they all said. My friends laughed at what an awful thing my mom had done. I hoped it would blow over in a few days, but three years later when I graduated, that damn thermos came back to haunt me…my nickname in the yearbook senior year was Marlboro Lady. Yeah, I never lived it down.

Leave a comment
April 08, 2012 11:53:42 PM
:

Joseph

:

submitted as an illustration

:
Comments(1)
April 08, 2012 11:49:26 PM
:

Nicholas

:

It wasn't Jim's first vacation, but it definetely would be his last. "My last one" jim uttered, while bobbing up to the crest of a miserably frothy and bitingly cold wave; Jim swore on it to God himself. If Jim was to favor any part of this particularly wet predicament, it would definitely be geting to the crest of this next wave. For it was there, from atop of the liquid mountain he sighted it, the flash of red caught and held his dying eyes. This turn of events breathed life into his searing soggy lungs. Instead of sinking, jim swam with passion towards the red that reflected in his eye. Most victims of cruise ship abandonment would likely prefer Jim's red salvation to be belonging to the likes of a coast gaurd rescue ship beckon or a life saver at the very least. But not jim, nothing could of been better than this. This was a symbol of personal achievement, it was his Marlborough thermos. ### The coast gaurd crew that plucked Jim from his certain death in that icey blue still laugh about how it toke four grown men to pry that Thermos from Jim's grip. Is he never would've made it if it wasn't for that red thermos. Then again, considering how many cigarettes he had to smoke in order to win that thermos, he probably would have made it. Nowadays when Jim hears his old nickname in passing, "hey, Marlborough man!", not only do his lungs flare but his heart swells too.

Leave a comment
April 08, 2012 11:48:56 PM
:

JM

:

And then there was this woman I picked up on the way to El Paso. She was jumpy from too many hours waiting by the side of the road. Right away she starts in about tarot cards and UFOs. She knew a man who had been in the People’s Temple up in Redwood Valley and was supposed to follow Jim Jones down to Guyana but didn’t at the last second because of a dream. They met in a commune outside of Yreka where they were trying to grow mushrooms in hydroponic tanks. One time they shot a bear and butchered the carcass according to the ancient rites of the Wintu Indians. It went rancid before they got a chance to eat it and they had to feed it to the dogs. She asked me if I had an opinion about the Nazca lines. There are ley-lines that run underneath all of North America, ferrying cosmic energy around like some kind of Celtic interstate. After six months in Bakersfield she was ready for a change. You have to water the tree of doubt she would say over and over. Water the tree of doubt. That’s what was waiting for her in New Orleans. That and a man named Carl. ### Eventually we got on the subject of ball lightning. I did know something about that. I told her how it can appear out of nowhere and skitter along the surface of the ground like a skipping stone. If it entered the human body it would leave a mark in the shape of a living tree. We were in New Mexico at this point. It was dusk and big black clouds hung low over the Organ Mountains. Static electricity was in the air. I told her this was the part of the country where ball lightning was most frequently seen. This was a lie but since I didn’t know whether it was true or not it didn’t feel like one. She wanted to see it. I said we should pull over somewhere and see what we could see. She said yes. ### I filled the thermos at a gas station and pulled over onto a dirt road. We spent the night drinking coffee and watching the sky through the windshield. It was too cold to leave the car. By this time we were mostly silent. I wanted to tell her something. But what was I supposed to tell her, that electricity already surrounded her, that it was shooting out of her hair into the stars?

Leave a comment
April 08, 2012 11:46:35 PM
:

Jim

:

It was the 90's. Ubiquitous plastic water bottles were merely a glimmer in the creative cosmos of some beverage marketer’s eyes. Until then, it was the cooler jug. The Marlboro Thermos I had won in the summer of 91’ brings back memories…

They were the pestilent-days-of-summer. Mid-to-late July, a Friday happy hour at one of those corporate lounges inside a homogenized roadside hotel near a monolith business park. One of those contrived corporate watering holes named T.J. McGinley’s, Flirtation or Rumors with brass railings and fake potted ferns that acted as buffers to the waitress station. The bartenders wore uniform store grade tuxedo shirts with clip on flowery bow ties and suspenders. Drink specials were listed on back lit boards in day glow colored script.

As corporate cogs filtered in to the bar, Kane Gang was soul-popping “Motortown” on VH1 over the large projection screen TV in the background. A local tobacco distributor set up a skirted folding banquet table on the dance floor by the D.J. booth. The smoke rep was giving out Marlboro promotional items. Answer a lame trivia question and the swag was yours.

With 5:30 p.m. on a Friday turning into 7:30 p.m. rather quickly, social rhythms of the night dictated a little drinking and dancing and plying potential hook-ups with liquor. The local Lotharios were starting to ditch their white-collared shackles: the necktie. It was time to wrap up tobacco promo night. There was one last item, a Marlboro Thermos. One last lame trivia question: “Was Humpty Dumpy pushed? “Yes!” I shouted. I hooked-up with a red and white Marlboro Thermos that Friday night. Made by Coleman’s, it was a sturdy, plastic jug that could hold an adequate amount of beverage. It was perfect for the next day at the beach resort. Let the local Lotharios have Friday night, my day was Saturday.

That Saturday was a sun kissed day at the beach. I dropped that Marlboro Thermos on a blanket and was in business. It was a chick a magnet. Because of my beach blanket symbol of smoker unity, the brazen brunettes and blue eyed bottled blonde bikini babes would drift over to bum a butt from me. The Marlboro Thermos was a static smoke signal that said "hey, come on over, we smokers take care of our own." I didn't smoke but that didn't matter. Once I got the ladies over to my sandy lair, lazy charm mixed with lazy summer breezes was a perfect cocktail for flirting. Then, the next thing you know, they're thirsty.

With their mouths marinating in anticipation, I announced “ladies, some cool, clear, water perhaps?" A flip of the snout spout and the pour into the requisite frat house party red plastic cup (coordination of the power color red was important) satisfied the need. Water, the life force that sustains us all is the gateway liquid. Later, I would guide them to supersonic gin and tonics (gin, tonic water, lemonade and lime wedge) or simple vodka on the rocks with a rumor of lemon juice.

As the daytime sun and fun at the beach ended, there were evening invites to my rugged, smoky cabin, where light refreshments and harmless pedestrian drinks were served. Later, a campfire back at the beach.

That's when the Marlboro Thermos got dirty. The tables scrap jiggers of booze about my cabin all got mixed into one glorious melting pot of Emma-Lazarus-The-New-Colossus glory: "Give me your gin, your vodka, Your huddled masses purchased from duty free, The wretched refuse from the package store. Send these, the homeless mini bar bottles, tequila tossed to me"...all mixed with ice, creating a liquid liberty libation. Then, down to the beach with my guitar and the trusty Marlboro Thermos at the ready.

At the beach, a campfire burning and me, a wannabe troubadour singing, things were humming along. A little "Call of The Canyon" on the guitar here, a little Emma Lazarus cocktail there, and the party was on. Oh, that Marlboro Thermos, my trusted friend, we had good times back then, you were plastic, you were safe, no worry of glass to break. We sure had fun, that summer of 91'…

But, alas, all good things must come to and end. The free-wheeling, carefree days of summer waned and soon gave way to autumn shadows, to cubicles and spreadsheets, days ending with single malt scotches in heavy bottomed rock glasses.

As years passed, like a friendship that dies from residual contempt, you were unceremoniously relegated to a shelf in the garage next to a box of steel wool, rat poison and charcoal fluid.

We can’t go back, Marlboro Thermos, my old friend. Back to the beach and those glory days of boom boxes and cocoa butter, of Frisbees and gin-soaked good-time girls. We can’t go back to the days when I was younger, faster and strong. Those days are gone...

Leave a comment
April 08, 2012 11:36:34 PM
:

Bob

:

The Normals###
By Bob Sullivan###

I saw the Marlboro thermos on the shelf. It’s all out in the open now. Marlboro thermoses. Marlboro Gatorade and Marlboro Nikes. Philip Morris treadmills. They don’t need to hide anymore. They won. ###

When my grandfather was still alive—late in the twentieth century—nobody knew what was happening. People thought the United States would last. Everyone thought that the nation-states would just always be there. ###

Back then, if they worried about anything, it was Big Oil. It was global warming and obesity. China (remember China?) had its one-child rule, and people thought that was extreme.###

The first tiny scraps of the truth started to come out when my parents were in college. The governments, the doctors, the health nuts never saw it coming. They went on and on about diet and exercise. The hippies told everyone to eat organic. The vegans shook their fingers at hamburgers and belts and shoes. And they all kept getting fatter.###

By the time I was born, over half of all people were morbidly obese. Diabetes and Cancer were skyrocketing despite what everyone thought they were doing to get healthy. Projected life spans shrank. And that was all part of the plan.###

Slowly, over the course of a few decades, two things started to happen: Governments all over the world stopped working, and a tiny group of healthy people began to emerge from the crowd.###

It’s not that governments fell apart, at least not right away. They just lost their ability to do anything. They issued regulations that nobody followed. And in governments as well as major companies, positions of power were quietly filled by a select group of thin, healthy and very rich people who came to be known as “the Normals.”###

The Normals started planning late in the twentieth century when the government cracked down on the tobacco industry and then turned its sights on health care and pharmaceuticals. The first were a handful of the top executives from tobacco, health insurance and drug companies. They were visionaries who knew that profits were at risk from paternalistic governments all over the world, spurred on by holier-than-thou groups that wanted free health care and government hand-outs for masses of plant-eating drones.###

By the year 2000, Normals held at least eighty percent of the most powerful positions on earth. They were the CEO’s and board members of the world’s largest companies, across all industries. They held key positions in the world’s governments. They controlled the drug cartels in Mexico and South America and the war lords in Africa. They controlled al-qaeda.###

The Normals let people have their beliefs—that was their genius. Whatever the average person wanted to believe in would work. Want to fight world hunger? Civil rights your thing? Animal rights? Fan of the New York Yankees? Go right ahead. It all became one enormous funnel. All of it produced a profit, and in the end, all of the profits flowed to the Normals. ###

It really started with just one thing: Nicotine. When the Normals first infiltrated Big Agriculture, they started working to recreate the hold cigarettes once had on consumers. They let the tree-huggers attack genetic engineering for crop yield and pest resistance. That was the decoy. The real mission was getting nicotine into the corn, wheat and soy beans. And it wasn’t limited to plants. Almost no one knew it, but the scientist who perfected a non-detectable method of infusing beef and pork with nicotine became the world’s richest person.###

It made perfect sense. Let the crusaders worry about super-sizing and advertising. With nicotine, the world was helpless. Nicotine guaranteed overeating. Then came the obesity and the diabetes, which led to the medical treatment, the testing, the drugs and the exercise fads. Every last bit of it was a self-sustaining juggernaut of profit.###

By around 2020, the world’s governments were like so many termite-infested houses, held up by the paint on the walls and ready to crumble in the next stiff breeze.###

The Normals never issued a press release. They never came forward to proclaim their leadership. But they slowly let the governments fall apart. The companies made the world work anyway. And the Normals ran the companies.###

Little by little, just because they could, they brought the grand old cigarette brands back into the light. I looked at the Marlboro logo on the thermos and I smiled. Oh, to be a Normal.###

Leave a comment
April 08, 2012 11:17:21 PM
:

Brett

:

###I kept it all these years. That symbol of family togetherness. It had disappeared and reappeared over time, migrating from dusty attics to the backs of closets and cabinets. I kept it like I kept all those vacation memories that it had been apart of.
###I remember Dad had smoked countless packs and clipped countless proofs of purchases to send in for that old thermos, the one stamped with his favorite brand. He was so proud when he got it in the mail, calling out to the rest of the house in his raspy voice, “See what smoking will get you?”
###A cheap thermos and a diagnosis of lung cancer, it didn’t seem like a fair trade looking back. But before the diagnosis, there were better years for us all and it seemed as time went on and I grew up, I began to appreciate things like that thermos and why it meant so much to my old man--The thermos that was as faithful on the first trip as it had been on the last.
###Anywhere we went it was always filled with iced tea or cool-aid, with enough to get us through nearly half the day at the race track at Watkins Glen when we went one year. Or only a few hours at Disney under the supernova summer sun of Florida the year after.
###I can almost still hear the contents sloshing around like they used to as I struggled to keep up with the rest of the family. I may have been the runt, but I was always eager to help out and carry it along. I suppose it was only natural that Dad had made a point to leave it to me in his will after he passed. "How funny ..." I remember thinking at the time. Though as I would hold the sturdy plastic in my hands and rotate it in my palms, I would remember those days when the family was together -- laughing and enjoying life in the best of ways. It was funny, and the small point of the thermos in the will kind of summed up the hard working, but always humorous nature of Dad.
###So I kept it all these years. I kept it along with the memories it could have carried like any liquid we used to pour from its spigot. Where is that old thermos now I wonder? I'll have to check my attic, my cabinets, maybe even ask my wife where it's disappeared to. Vacation time is right around the corner and with a good cleaning, it may just make it out of retirement. For old times sake.

Leave a comment
April 08, 2012 11:17:20 PM
:

Brett

:

###I kept it all these years. That symbol of family togetherness. It had disappeared and reappeared over time, migrating from dusty attics to the backs of closets and cabinets. I kept it like I kept all those vacation memories that it had been apart of.
###I remember Dad had smoked countless packs and clipped countless proofs of purchases to send in for that old thermos, the one stamped with his favorite brand. He was so proud when he got it in the mail, calling out to the rest of the house in his raspy voice, “See what smoking will get you?”
###A cheap thermos and a diagnosis of lung cancer, it didn’t seem like a fair trade looking back. But before the diagnosis, there were better years for us all and it seemed as time went on and I grew up, I began to appreciate things like that thermos and why it meant so much to my old man--The thermos that was as faithful on the first trip as it had been on the last.
###Anywhere we went it was always filled with iced tea or cool-aid, with enough to get us through nearly half the day at the race track at Watkins Glen when we went one year. Or only a few hours at Disney under the supernova summer sun of Florida the year after.
###I can almost still hear the contents sloshing around like they used to as I struggled to keep up with the rest of the family. I may have been the runt, but I was always eager to help out and carry it along. I suppose it was only natural that Dad had made a point to leave it to me in his will after he passed. "How funny ..." I remember thinking at the time. Though as I would hold the sturdy plastic in my hands and rotate it in my palms, I would remember those days when the family was together -- laughing and enjoying life in the best of ways. It was funny, and the small point of the thermos in the will kind of summed up the hard working, but always humorous nature of Dad.
###So I kept it all these years. I kept it along with the memories it could have carried like any liquid we used to pour from its spigot. Where is that old thermos now I wonder? I'll have to check my attic, my cabinets, maybe even ask my wife where it's disappeared to. Vacation time is right around the corner and with a good cleaning, it may just make it out of retirement. For old times sake.

Leave a comment
April 08, 2012 11:14:49 PM
:

Brian

:

Wayne knew about the haters. He knew what they said about him, the names they called him behind his back: “sell-out”, “shill”, “corporate whore”.
###
He also knew that the reality was that they were just jealous. Jealous that he had figured out a way to make a living—truth be told, a VERY good living—just being a thermos, and that all he had to do to make it happen was give the good people at Marlboro a tiny spot of ad space on his chest.
###
So the rest of them could tsk, tsk about him being “in bed with Big Tobacco” and take comfort in their perceived moral superiority all they wanted. He knew they were all just jealous they hadn’t thought of it first.

Leave a comment
April 08, 2012 10:43:52 PM
:

Joey Camire

:

I started collecting Marlboro Miles when I was 8. It seemed the most effective means to get what I wanted – stuff. Everyone I knew had stuff, stuff they’d got for their birthdays or Christmas, gifts and surprises, even stuff they’d got because they're old stuff had gotten worn out enough to warrant new stuff. I however didn't have stuff. And I wanted it badly.

My father smoked like a chimney. Truly. In the evening when he drank there was what seemed like a perpetually lit cigarette in his hand, a Lilliputian smokestack of American grown tobacco streaming from his body. I always blamed him for my lack of stuff, and it wasn't a wholly inaccurate accusal, but I thought I didn't have anything because he spent all of his money on cigarettes. It was actually because he spent it all on Michelob. 

When I first saw the Marlboro catalog at a neighbor’s house, I didn't understand it. Why would a company just give you free stuff?  

"No, you collect Marlboro Miles, stupid. These things. They're in every pack. Like saving up from cereal boxes for the special toys,” my neighbor told me. “My sister got a pair of sandals from it.”

I wasn't sure what cereal he was eating, because the white and brown boxes of government cereal we got didn't have any prizes. What I did know, though, was that my father had a giant pile of discarded cigarette boxes in between his recliner and the magazine rack I wasn't supposed to look at. A treasure trove if my neighbor was right. I decided I was going to take these miles from him, however curious this currency sounded, and get some stuff of my own. I stole the catalog that night, but promised myself I’d return it. I didn’t like taking things.

That first time I gathered the Miles from next to my father’s unconscious body, strewn akimbo on the worn velvet of the Lay-z-boy. I wasn’t sure what I thought was going to happen. I treated it like the infiltration of a heavily guarded bank vault or the compound of some cartel. I silently snatched them and hurried up to my room. 159 Miles, a number I was sure to count 3 times, stacking the papers in 15 piles of 10 across the wood floor of my bedroom and one pile of 9. Once I was sure I’d counted right, I began to finger through the catalog.

It felt like I’d stumbled upon some great scheme. I ordered a thermos, a portable radio, a towel and a pair of sunglasses, all emblazoned with the logo of the company that was foolish enough to send me all of this stuff for free.

By the time my first package arrived, I’d become quite enterprising in my acquisition of Marlboro Miles. I’d begun sneaking into the teachers lounge at school and found discarded boxes in the trash. I even began going through teachers’ pockets, but never taking anything more than the Miles inside the cellophane wrapped boxes. 

I brought my new stuff out to the woods where I’d stashed an additional 200 Miles in plastic bags inside an old tree. I’d begun to create a camp around the tree, a clandestine compound in the woods to keep and display all of my new stuff, stuff generously bestowed upon me by a cowboy from the west. My life hadn’t exactly accelerated into prosperity, but cold Kool-Aid from a thermos under the shade of a big tree was a welcome hideaway from the disappointment of reality. It’s amazing what an infusion of pride can do for a lonely little boy. 

My father died last week. He never stopped smoking. The irony is not lost on me that the only thing he’d ever given me was part of what ended up killing him. I guess I can’t say that. The act of being artful in getting what you want is not a skill I’d have gained if it weren’t for his negligence as a parent.

There wasn’t a service. I put his ashes into the old thermos. I made a small stand for it next to my diplomas.  The diplomas as proof of how far I’d come and the thermos as a reminder of how I’d learned to get there.

Comments(1)
April 08, 2012 10:30:16 PM
:

Ivy

:

"Five minutes left girls! Go for gold!" I yelled through the crowd and my own ear splitting thoughts.###It was 1-1 and the championship, but I couldn't think about that, much. All my thoughts were consumed by Macey Patrece. She was my finest player, 23 years old and going off to play in Italy professionally. She had platinum blond hair, piercing blue eyes, a wicked smile and a body to match.###We had been dating for the last 2 years but right after the game she was leaving me. She didn't even seem to care, it was ripping my heart out. I was pathetic.###"Thats it Tracey! Just keep trying!" I tried to push my thoughts back but something about the bright stadium lights distracted me and I was back again.###How could this girl do this to me? I was only 30 and still good looking. Just the other day a petite Brunette commented on my dark brown hair and eyes! Why was this girl so special? She's just a person! Right? Oh man... Could I be...? Gulp... In love??? How could this happen? I mean, it's me! The guy who had the whole of the girls sports department wrapped around his finger!###But it must be true because now I couldn't even look at another girl the way I look at Macey. Why had I not figured this out till now? What could I do, stop her? That's stupid! Why am I being so stupid?###”One minute left girls! You can do it!” One minute left? Only one? I can't deal with this. After this game I would never see her again! I didn't even have anything to remember her by.###I looked furtively around, almost frantic. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted it. Her thermos! It was perfect. She took it to every game. She said that her dad had given it to her for her first game when she was 5! She also believed that it was lucky because that very game, she won with the winning goal. Maybe if I was lucky she would come back to me?###I looked around making sure everyone was watching the game, and snatched it up, stashing it in my bag.### “Go Macey! You've got this!” The crowd suddenly yelled as she headed towards the goal. 'Five seconds left on the clock!' I thought to myself, and as if by magic she shot and scored! “Whoo!!!”The crowd yelled as the players exited the field.### “Way to go Macey!” I smiled.### “Oh.. yeah.. Thanks?”### She blew me off with a quick kiss and asked, “have you seen my thermos?”### I shook my head keeping calm. “You must have forgotten it.”### “Oh okay ....Whatever...” She paused. “I thought you needed it?” I asked.### “No, I know I'm good without that thing and this proves it!” I stared at her dumbstruck and, to my horror, she smiled and said bye. I watched as she started to exit the field and... “Macey...” I didn't get to finish as the players circled me cheering.### That was the last time I saw her, it is now five years later. After that I just mopped around for 3 years, three! That was when I met Camille, she was smart, funny and understood me. We have been dating for the last 2 years and tomorrow we're getting married! There's just one more thing to do.### “Excuse me sir, but would your store take this old thermos?”

Leave a comment
April 08, 2012 10:23:10 PM
:

Alex

:

“It’s not that we don’t want Scotty to be on the team. He’s a suuuper nice kid and all the other children realllly like him. But, well, we can’t have any of the kids, you know, encouraging the others to smoke. OranythingelsebadlikethatyouknowwhatImean?”###I have no idea what she means. Eleven minutes ago I was here to pick up my little brother from soccer practice. Now I’m listening to his Olsen twin of a coach while trying to think of the best way to tell him he’s not going to need those new shin pads without it resulting in his tears and snot finding a home on my shoulder. This whole thing is about the fucking thermos? ###“It’s the age. At that age they’re impressionable. They’ll do, like, pretty much anything if they think it’s the cool thing to do. And I’m not saying he’s actually suggesting the rest of the team do it. I’m not saying that at all. But it is, you know, RIGHT THERE.”###I’d honestly forgotten that the Marlboro logo was even on there until she brought it up. I’m fully aware of the dangers of tobacco and most other narcotics, legal or otherwise. I understand the implications of perceived promotion of said narcotics amongst the youth. I’m also not stupid enough to ever intentionally do anything like that, much less on a pee-wee soccer field, and sure as shit not by proxy through a 6-year-old.###“It’s just that some of the other parents have voiced a concern. Like a genuine concern about it. I KNOW! I know it sounds silly but it’s just, well, it’s becoming an issue. A few of the kids have asked their parents what the symbol means and, well, they’re just not ready to have that talk with their children yet.”###I went through eight years, sixteen seasons, in this exact, same league. Eight years and no one said a word about that damn logo. That thermos came with me to every practice and every game and the only issue it ever caused was after I tripped John Lundsford and he got back at me by farting on the straw when I wasn’t looking. Detrimental to my future, it was not.###“A lot of the times, I think, parents like to approach these subjects once they feel that the child is old enough to comprehend it for themselves. So when it’s, you know, like THRUST upon them like this, it can be a little jarring, right?”###I wonder what Dad would have said if Kellen’s mom or Schuyler’s dad had approached him about the thermos during one of my games. No way he would have stood for some of the BS they pull around here. Stopping the game to let the other team score so nobody feels like a loser? Not keeping score at all half the time? Kicking a kid off the team unless he drinks from a less-threatening bottle? Jesus, I’d love to see his face.###“Again, I’m not accusing Scotty of anything. And I’m totally not saying he’s a bad kid or anything. He’s just, well like I said, he’s causing an issue with the other parents and I think it may be best if we, you know, alleviate the situation.”###It’s a great thermos. Damn thing has lasted, what, seventeen years? I want to be mad at her but It’s not her fault. It’s the douchebag parents. They’re too scared to talk to their own kids about anything serious so now I have to crush my little brother’s tiny heart? No. That thermos isn’t going anywhere. Neither is Scotty. Worst part about all this is that his coach is cute. She’s dumb as rocks, but cute.###“You understand right?”###“Yeah. No. Totally. And don’t, like, even worry about it. I’ll take this old thing to Goodwill or something and get him a new bottle on our way home. I’m pretty sure it leaks anyway, you know?”

Leave a comment
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next »