Marlboro Man here.

I’ve been roaming the open plains of Montana for fifty years now, all that time enjoying the rich flavor of Marlboro brand cigarettes. It’s not a bad life. I get to sleep outside, make my own schedule. And the good people at Marlboro give me as many cigarettes and flannel shirts as I want. My contract stipulates that I keep my mustache. Also, I’m supposed to “perpetually smolder with visible awareness of my own machismo,” whatever that means.

But the important part, the smoking Marlboro cigarettes part? I’d of done that anyway. Yessir. I just plain like Marlboros. How I got a job smoking cigarettes is beyond me. Pretty good for an old country boy.

Even still, riding around on my horse and smoking all the time can get a little dry. Sometimes I try and spice it up a little by doing a little, what do they call it? Market research? Just to razz the boys at corporate. And I’m happy to say that I haven’t found any other cigarette to compare with Marlboro brand.

Take this new TAMPAX brand. Nothing special there. I mean, if all them TAMPAX jokers can put out there is some pink fuzzy thing with a string coming out of it, well… I think I’ve made the right decision dancing with the one who brung me.

The packaging on these TAMPAX sure is awkward. Trying to get each one out of its individual wrapper while riding my horse is just plain difficult. And I’m not crazy about the appearance, either. Not to mention that medicine smell, which puts me right off. Worst part by a long shot, though, is the total lack of draw. I tell you, they barely burn! I had to inhale several times before I got a good cherry going. And then it just kind of fizzled. I’m not even sure there’s any tobacco in there. Was like smoking a…I don’t even know what. Some kind of medicine-smelling…fuzzy…

Well, I guess the company didn’t hire me for my way with words. Point is, I was not impressed one bit. For my money, Marlboro is still the best. They smell good. They taste good. And you ain’t gonna beat them by throwing some cheap perfume on some rolled-up cotton.

And I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about it. Thanks for listening to an old cowboy.

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NATHAN PENSKY is a recent graduate of the Creative Writing M.F.A. program at Mills College and has been published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, MONKEYBICYCLE, and many others. He is an Associate Flash Fiction/Fiction Editor for the online literary journal JMWW, and a frequent contributor for the pop culture website PopMatters.

12 responses to “The Marlboro Man Says a Few Words About TAMPAX”

  1. Oh, Nathan. Your brain is such an awesome place. Thanks for making me giggle. (:

  2. Art Edwards says:

    “Was like smoking a…I don’t even know what.”

    Thanks, Nathan.

  3. gloria says:

    Your cowboy voice is pitch-perfect.

    Also, barf.

  4. Summer Block says:

    That was basically the best type of weird.

  5. Ha! This is particularly funny to me because my older sister’s code-word for tampons used to be “cigars.” My mom would head off to the grocery store, and my sister would yell after her, “Hey, don’t forget to buy me more cigars!” I thought, damn, she smokes a lot. And *where* does she smoke? I never see her smoking. All I know is, dad says smoking’ll make you grow chest hair.

    • Nathan Pensky says:

      That’s good stuff, Cynthia.

      I just thought the idea of the Marlboro Man having trouble understanding anything except in context of a cigarette sounded funny. I also thought it would be funny if he was the spokesman for TAMPAX. Putting the ideas together was just me not wanting to choose between the two.

  6. Ride em, cowboy! Sounds like you’ve smoked more than just Tampax there, M.M. Then again, what else does a guy do oer those long prarie rides? Ever heard of the local locoweed? Your horses ought to know all about it. Or you can visit my Housefire story, Party Like An Animal to get the inside scoop.

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